Defeats Kanepi to advance to the last 32 of Wimbledon for first time.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Shahar Pe'er eased into the third round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, defeating Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-4, 7-5.
The Israeli dictated play throughout the match and beat Kanepi for a second straight time in a Grand Slam tournament.
Pe'er easily defeated Kanepi in the first round of the French Open less than four weeks ago and had no trouble once again. Kanepi's erratic play (32 unforced errors) ended any hope she may have had of springing a surprise. Pe'er needed no more than a solid performance to advance.
"All in all I'm pleased with the way I'm playing," Pe'er said after the match. "I'm moving well, serving well and hitting the ball well.
"I've played two very difficult matches against two dangerous opponents and I'm happy I've managed to overcome them."
Pe'er, who is seeded 16th at the All England Club, will face good friend and world No. 19 Marion Bartoli of France in her first-ever third-round match at Wimbledon.
Pe'er has defeated Bartoli in all five of their previous meetings.
"The match against Bartoli will be extremely difficult," Pe'er said. "She's in excellent form, reaching the fourth round of the French Open and the semifinals in two Wimbledon warm-up events. This will be our first meeting on grass, which will make my life much tougher. Nevertheless, I'll give my all."
After saving two break points in the first game of the match and holding serve, Kanepi's resistance crumbled in the third game and Pe'er broke serve. In the fifth game a double fault by Kanepi gave Pe'er a two-break lead and she was cruising after holding serve in the following game (5-1).
Three straight games by Kanepi (No. 58) brought her within one game of Pe'er and injected life into a set that had previously seemed over.
But a love game by Pe'er ended Kanepi's hopes and clinched the set.
"I played very well in the first set," Pe'er said. "Even after she cut the margin to 5-4, I felt good and served excellently in the following game."
Three consecutive return winners by Pe'er gave her a love break in the first game of the second set. She saved break points in the second and fourth games of the set and took a 4-2 lead by holding serve once more.
Kanepi finally converted a break point in the eighth game and grabbed the lead by holding serve to love in the next game. Pe'er, who hit just 13 unforced errors throughout the match, answered immediately with a love game of her own and broke in the 11th game to regain the lead. Another love service game for Pe'er completed the victory and booked her place in the third round.
"I began the second set very well and broke her serve," Pe'er said. "For some reason I felt like she would eventually break back and unfortunately she did. At 4-5 I regained my composure and lost just one point until the end of the match."
Anna Smashnova's outstanding professional career ended in embarrassing fashion. The 30-year-old Israeli lost 6-0, 6-0 to Germany's Martina Muller (No. 34) in a first-round match that lasted just 41 minutes. Smashnova only won 17 points throughout the two sets and never reached a single break point.
Smashnova (No. 166), who at her peak was ranked No. 15 in the world in August 2003, won 12 WTA titles during her career and beat five top-10 players since turning professional in 1991. Smashnova, who only played three matches in 2007 - losing in the first round of all three Grand Slam events - will officially end her playing career after Israel's Fed Cup tie against Austria in July.
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