Pe’er proving she can play with consistency

After making semifinals in Beijing last week, Israeli tennis star looks to advance to last 4 of HP Open in Osaka, Japan.

Peer 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Peer 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
After going five months without reaching a semifinal, Shahar Pe’er will be looking to advance the last four of a tournament for the second time in a week on Friday when she faces Iveta Benesova in the quarterfinals of the HP Open in Osaka, Japan.
The 23-year-old Israeli climbed to career-best No. 13 in the world after making the semifinals in Beijing last week and has carried the momentum into Osaka where she progressed to the semis on Thursday with a 3-6, 6- 1, 6-3 victory over Japan’s Ryoko Fuda (215).
Pe’er, who is gunning for a place in the end-of-season WTA Championships in Doha, will be aiming to claim her first career win over Benesova (67), who has beaten the Israeli in both their previous meetings.
Also Thursday, Yoni Erlich and Novak Djokovic advanced to the second round of the Shanghai Masters, beating Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-1.
In their only previous tournament together, Erlich and Djokovic claimed the title in Queens, London.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal failed to reach a quarterfinal for the first time this year, upset 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 by Jurgen Melzer in the third round in Shanghai on Thursday.
The top-ranked Nadal had never dropped a set to the Austrian in three previous meetings. The Spaniard defeated Melzer in the semifinals of the French Open this year en route to the title.
Nadal won the US Open in September to become the seventh man in history to win all four Grand Slam tournaments. He was bidding for his eighth title of the season.
Melzer played aggressively from the start, hitting booming forehand winners and attacking Nadal’s second serve to break him twice and capture the opening set in 40 minutes.
Nadal rallied in the second set, getting his first – and only – break of the match with a running backhand down the line that the Austrian dumped into the net.
The players held serve in the deciding set until the fifth game when Nadal shanked a forehand long and hit another one wide to give Melzer his third break of the match. The Spaniard saved three match points on his serve, but Melzer easily put the match away on his next serve.
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray eased into the quarterfinals.
Federer beat Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4, Djokovic defeated Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-1, while Murray overcame qualifier Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4 to reach his ninth quarterfinal this year.
Djokovic faces Guillermo Garcia- Lopez, who upset Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych 7-6 (4), 6-3. Garcia- Lopez advanced on Wednesday when Andy Roddick retired due to a nagging groin injury.
Murray will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated Florian Mayer 7-5, 6-3, while Federer next faces nemesis Robin Soderling.