(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er will play former doubles partner Sania Mirza in the third round of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells after coming through her second round match against Akgul Amanmuradova on Friday.
The 20-year-old Israeli, who had a first round bye, defeated her Uzbek opponent 6-1, 6-4, remarkably saving 10 of 11 break points during the one hour and 20 minute encounter.
Pe'er (18 in the world) will be desperate to claim a win against Mirza as she reached the quarterfinals of the prestigious event in California last year and could suffer a dramatic drop in the rankings should she fail to get the better of the Indian for the first time in their last three matches.
In the doubles tournament, Pe'er and Argentinian partner Gisela Dulko advanced to the second round on Friday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tatiana Perebiynis and Renata Voracova.
Dudi Sela (64) faced Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (17) in the second round of the men's tournament in Indian Wells after press time on Saturday, after recording just his second win of the year late Thursday night.
Sela defeated German Nicolas Kiefer (49) 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3, winning for only the second time in seven matches in 2008.
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova won her 15th straight match without a loss this year, overpowering French qualifier Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-1, 6-0 on Friday.
The fourth-seeded Sharapova, the 2006 champion, had little trouble with Cohen-Aloro, breaking her serve five times and losing only 24 points in the 58-minute match.
"You never know what kind of tennis you're going to produce in these conditions, but against an opponent that didn't give me much pace, I think I handled it pretty well," Sharapova said.
The Russian star joined second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and defending champion Daniela Hantuchova in the third round. Kuznetsova beat Russian countrywoman Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-1 in 53 minutes, and the fifth-seeded Hantuchova opened her title defense with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over wild-card Angela Haynes.
Kuznetsova saved the three break points she faced and broke Makarova five times en route to her victory.
"It was tough with the wind, but I was able to play well on the key points," Kuznetsova said.
Hantuchova won 22 of 23 points on her first serves in the match and lost just 12 total points in the opening set. The 5-foot-11 right-hander, also the 2002 Indian Wells winner, didn't face a break point.
"This is the court for me. I wish I could play every match of the year on this court," the three-time tour winner said. "I don't know what it is. I guess it's the bounce - not too slow, not too fast. It was just perfect. I feel like I can hit every time in the middle of my racket."
She was able to adapt to the gusting wind.
"There's not too much to do other than just trying to hit the ball inside the court, not going for too many crazy shots," Hantuchova said. "You are never going to have incredible rallies and beautiful shotmaking. It's about putting it inside the court, no matter how." Eighth-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia and No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland also advanced.
Safina beat Jill Craybas 7-6 (3), 7-5, and Radwanska edged Mariya Koryttseva of Ukraine 6-1, 7-6 (3). China's Shuai Peng beat No. 23 Karin Knapp of Italy, 6-1, 6-3.
In men's first-round play, American Sam Querrey, the winner last week in Las Vegas, was a 7-6 (5), 6-3 winner over Peru's Luis Horna; and 206-centimeter (6-foot-9) John Isner outlasted Italy's Simone Bolelli, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2). Austria's Jurgen Melzer eliminated former US Open champion Marat Safin of Russia 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-2. It was Safin's fourth loss in five matches this year.
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