(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Shahar Pe'er got 2007 off to a winning start on Monday morning, defeating American Meghann Shaughnessy 6-1, 5-7, 6-0, in the first round of the Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts tournament in Gold Coast, Australia.
The Israeli, who is ranked 20th in the world and seeded fifth in the Gold Coast event, is keen to establish her place among the world's top 20 in 2007.
The win over Shaughnessy (37) is a good omen at such an early stage of the season.
Pe'er will face Olga Poutchkova (39) for a place in the quarterfinals after the Russian defeated Yuliana Fedak (80) 7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 6-3, on Monday.
After dropping the first game of the match with a double fault, Pe'er reeled off sixth consecutive games, breaking the American three times on course to a 6-1 first set win.
Shaughnessy finally managed to hold on to a service game at the start of the second set and after breaking the Israeli took a 3-1 lead.
Three consecutive breaks of serve by Pe'er put her in position to serve for the match (5-4). However she failed to capitalize on the chance and Shaughnessy won three straight games to take the second set 7-5.
Pe'er recovered from the second set disappointment and broke her opponent in the first game of the decisive set.
The Israeli raced throw the set and five straight games gave her a 6-0 win and a place in the next round.
Former world number 35 makes aliya
Israel's successful Federation Cup team may be getting even better in the near future after Evgenia Linetskaya, who was ranked as high as 35th in the world in July 2005, made aliya to Israel.
The 20-year-old Linetskaya is currently ranked 1,217 in the world after missing almost the entire 2006 season. She will train in Israel with the country's top coach Oded Ya'akov, who has prepared a special program for her.