Now’s as good a time as any, Shahar

Pe’er looks to break Williams jinx in 4th-round match vs Venus; Youzhny ousts Sela.

DUDI SELA 311 (photo credit: AP)
(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe’er will have to defeat a Williams sister for the first time in her career on Sunday if she’s to reach a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in three years.
The 23-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 19 in the world and seeded 16th at Flushing Meadows, will face No. 3- seeded Venus Williams in the fourth round of the US Open after defeating Flavia Pennetta (19), who had made the quarterfinals in New York in the last two years.
Pe’er, who has lost all 10 of her previous meetings against the Williams sisters, five to Venus and five to Serena, beat Pennetta 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 31 minutes on Friday, showing a significant improvement from her play in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Pe’er, who has reached just one quarterfinal in her past six events, claimed the first break of the match in the 10th game to take the first set before racing into a 4-0 lead in the second set.
Pennetta reeled off four straight games to tie the score, but Pe’er would break the Italian’s serve in the 10th game once more to complete a straight-sets victory.
Dudi Sela’s US Open campaign was cut short on Friday in the second round with a 6- 1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, four-set defeat to Mikhail Youzhny (12).
Youzhny stormed through the first two sets, and despite cutting the deficit by taking the third, Sela could not force a decider and will now turn his focus to Israel’s Davis Cup tie against Austria over the weekend of September 16-19.
On Saturday, Yoni Erlich and Jordan Kerr, who beat Andy Ram and Julian Knowle in the first round of the doubles tournament, were knocked out in the second round after a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 loss to Jeremy Chardy and Christopher Kes.
Pe’er, on the other hand, has another big match at the US Open to look forward to, and she will have to be at her very best to make the last eight of a Grand Slam tournament for the third time in her career.
Williams has been in excellent form, with her play sparkling as much as her sequined dress. She easily eliminated 185th-ranked qualifier Mandy Minella of Luxembourg 6-2, 6-1 on Friday night to reach the US Open’s fourth round for the 12th time in 12 trips to the tournament.
“My whole thing was to try to bank on my experience, which so far is working,” said Williams, who is playing in her first tournament since losing in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. “My concern is always to be able to make the play and to play the level that I’m used to.”
That resume of hers includes seven Grand Slam singles titles, including at the US Open in 2000 and 2001.
She also was the runner-up in New York in 1997 and 2002.
After losing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals June 29, the American was supposed to return to the tour on the hard-court circuit in early August at Cincinnati, then play at Montreal.
But she hurt her knee shortly before Cincinnati, and came to New York without any match preparation.
How’s that working out? Williams has dropped a combined 17 games through three rounds and is ready for Pe’er.
“Obviously she played a good match, and the first seed that I’ll have the opportunity to play,” Williams said of Pe’er.
“We’ve had a lot of good matches in the past. I think one of the best matches in her career was against Serena that I watched. So I know she has the talent to do something big. She already has in her career. I want to just get out there and execute my game to the point where I get to that next round.
“I’ve always had a little bit of the upper hand against her, so hopefully that will give me a little bit of an advantage in the next match.”
AP contributed to this report