(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shahar Pe’er will look to claim her first ever victory over Maria Sharapova on
Thursday when she faces the Russian in the third round of the Italian Open in
The 24-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 14 in the world, beat Alisa
Kleybanova (26) 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the last 16 on Wednesday, avenging her
first-round defeat to the Russian at the Madrid Open last week.
lost all four of her previous meetings with Sharapova, ranked No. 8 in the
world, but the two haven’t played since 2008.
Meanwhile in the men’s
event, world No. 1 Rafa Nadal came within two games of a shock defeat on his
favorite clay before overcoming Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi 6-7 6-4 6-0 in
the second round of the Rome Masters on Wednesday.
After his 37-match
winning streak on the red dirt was ended by Novak Djokovic last week in the
final of the Madrid Open, the out-of-sorts Spaniard had to fight back from a set
down before reeling off the last eight games to retain his record of never
losing consecutive matches on clay.
Nadal’s nervy performance contrasted
with the imperious Novak Djokovic, who crushed Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 6-0
6-3 earlier to stretch his unbeaten run for the year to 33
Djokovic can overtake Nadal atop the rankings this week if he
wins the title and Nadal fails to reach the semis.
Rome champion for five
of the past six years with a 27-1 winloss record, Nadal broke Lorenzi in the
sixth game, but the Italian, ranked 148 in the world, refused to be intimidated
by a strangely expressionless Nadal and broke back immediately before taking the
set to a tie-break.
In Rafa fashion, Lorenzi chased everything down,
forcing the Nadal groundstrokes to splutter, most visibly on the forehand and
The carnival atmosphere subsided as Nadal broke serve in the
very first game of the second set, but the gutsy Lorenzi was still mixing up his
game well and after the Spaniard took a tumble to stain his canary yellow shirt,
Lorenzi broke back in the sixth game to threaten a huge upset.
showed anxiety for the first time, though, at 4-4 and Nadal broke again before
holding his serve to square the match, winning the final point with a smash and
scream of “vamos.”
In the decider, Nadal rediscovered the timing that had
eluded him in the previous two and raced to the finish line against a tiring
opponent.Reuters contributed to this report