Pe'er knocked out by Dementieva in Auckland quarters
By ALLON SINAI
Shahar Pe'er's run at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand was brought to an end by world number four Elena Dementieva on Thursday.
Pe'er (39) was the subject of a demonstration outside the tournament venue by about 20 people, objecting to her presence at the event given Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip, and was once more defiant about the protests that had dogged her all week.
"I'm not the government of Israel and I'm not representing Israel as a politician," said Pe'er, who had nothing to say to the protesters who had previously asked her to withdraw from the tournament.
"I'm a tennis player and that's what I represent now."
After dropping the first two games of the match, the Israeli women's No. 1, who was warmly applauded by spectators when she went on court, reeled off three straight games and seemed to be well place to give Dementieva a real fight.
That proved, however, to be Pe'er's best stretch of play in the match, with Dementieva claiming the next nine games to clinch the first set and open an unassailable lead in the second on her way to a 6-3, 6-1 victory.
"We've played before so I knew what I wanted to do on court," said Dementieva, who improved to 5-1 in her career against Pe'er. "It looked easy, but it was not that easy. She is a very tough player.
"I'm sure it was a tough day for her because of the situation in her country," Dementieva added.
"I'm sure it was not easy to play for her. I just know she can play better tennis next week."
Pe'er will take part in the Moorilla Hobart International in Australia next week before moving on to Melbourne for the Australian Open, which gets underway on January 19.
Dementieva's semifinal opponent will be France's Aravane Rezai, an Iranian-born Muslim and friend of Peer. Rezai beat unseeded Romanian Edina Gallovits 6-3, 6-2.
Second-seeded Caroline Wozniaki of Denmark, ranked 12th, fell to unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina 6-3, 0-6, 6-3. Vesnina will meet unseeded Anne Keothavong of Britain in the semifinals.
Also Thursday, Dudi Sela (107) was knocked out in the second round of the Chennai Open in India, losing 6-7 (3), 4-6 to seventh-seed Janko Tipsarevic (47).
Next week, Sela will begin his participation in the Australian Open qualifiers.
Andy Ram also suffered his first loss of 2009 on Thursday, crashing out in the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International with partner Max Mirnyi.
The Israeli/Belarusian duo, which was seeded first in the event, lost 4-6, 4-6 to wildcards Chris Guccione and Carsten Ball.
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