Pe’er crashes into Wozniacki in Beijing semifinals

Israeli tennis star climbs to No. 13, earns $1 million for first time.

Shahar Peer good 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Peer good 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Pe’er’s impressive run at the China Open was brought to an end on Saturday by new world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
The 23-year-old Israeli was beaten 7- 5, 6-2 by Wozniacki in the semifinals in Beijing, but will still rise five places to a new career-high No. 13 in the world when the new rankings are released on Monday morning.
Pe’er, whose previous best was No.
14, advanced to her first semifinal in five months after beating Timea Bacsinszky (47) 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Friday. Despite putting up a fight on Saturday, she dropped to a fourth defeat in five matches against Wozniacki, who converted six of 11 break points.
“I was obviously disappointed after the match, but I told myself that I must take the good things out of it,” said Pe’er, who takes home $169,445 for a week’s work, crossing the million dollar mark for the year for the first time in her career.
“I played well overall and I’m happy I’ve improved my best ranking. I need to be more aggressive and improve my serve, which wasn’t good all week. But overall I’m playing well and I’m progressing in the right direction.”
Pe’er, who will play in Osaka, Japan this week, got the semis off to an ideal start, breaking Wozniacki in the first game. However, the Dane took four straight games before opening a 5-2 lead, only for Pe’er to tie the set at 5-5 after saving six set points.
Wozniacki would take advantage of her seventh set point, however, to take the opener 7-5.
Despite the disappointment, Pe’er’s spirit was not broken and she took the first two games of the second set. But Wozniacki would dominate after that, winning six games on the trot to advance to the final where she will face Vera Zvonareva, who powered past Li Na 6-3, 6-3.
“I feel good out there on court and hopefully tomorrow I can play a good match against Vera,” said Wozniacki, who wrapped up the match in 1 hour and 19 minutes. “She’s in really good shape, so it’s not going to be easy. I’m just thinking about trying to be 100 percent fit for tomorrow.”
The 20-year-old Wozniacki had hurt her knee in her quarterfinal win against Ana Ivanovic on Friday.
“It felt better today than yesterday,” Wozniacki said. “It’s not getting worse, so that’s a positive.”
Zvonareva had to contend with the home crowd’s raucous support for Li but never lost focus, converting six of eight break chances.
“I was just trying to do my best on the court and not think about anything else,” said Zvonareva, the Wimbledon and the US Open finalist who will rise to No. 3 in the rankings next week.
“I knew I just had to hang in there and counter-punch when I could. Get every single ball and fight for every point, and I think I did that.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the final of the men’s tournament in Beijing by beating John Isner of the United States 7-6 (1), 6-4.
The top-seeded Djokovic pounded away from the baseline and executed sharply at the net to nail three of 12 breakpoints and drop serve only once against the 6-foot-9 Isner.
Djokovic will meet eighth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, who battled to down Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal needed to save two match points to beat unseeded Viktor Troicki 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (7) and reach the Japan Open final on Saturday.
Troicki served for the match in the third set, but Nadal broke and squeezed by in a tight tiebreak to win. He will face Gael Monfils of France for the title.
Monfils defeated Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 to earn his spot in Sunday’s final.
AP contributed to this report.