Pe’er puts up fight, but bows out to Venus

With crowd on her side, Shahar takes Williams to tie-break in first set, only to falter.

Shahar Peer good 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Peer good 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Pe’er gave Venus Williams a run for her money on Sunday, but lost, again.
The 23-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 19 in the world and seeded 16th at Flushing Meadows, battled the No. 3-seeded American for an hour and 54 minutes, but still failed to take her first set ever against Williams, losing 7-6(3), 6- 3 in the fourth round of the US Open to fall to 0-6 in her career against Serena’s big sister.
Pe’er entered the match with the right tactic, choosing to go for her shots, especially on Williams’ second serves, while also trying to come into the net as much as possible.
It worked for much of the afternoon, with the Israeli winning 20 of 34 points on the second serve of the 2000 and 2001 US Open champion. However, she could never gain the upper hand overall at the Arthur Ashe Stadium and will have to wait at least four more months before she will try again to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2007 US Open.
“The conditions were very difficult. It’s not easy to play with this wind,” said Pe’er, who can be pleased with her overall performance in New York after reaching just one quarterfinal in her previous six events.
“I think I was feeling okay. I think I played better the round before, but obviously both of us didn’t play our best, because it’s tough to play very, very well in this wind. You try to make as least errors as possible. But, you know, I was getting very close in the match, and I think I was fighting very well.”
Despite yet another defeat to Venus, Pe’er remains confident she will be able to eventually get the better of Williams.
“I think the first set can give me more for the future, because every time I played Venus I had a tough time and she was always kind of killing me every match,” she added with a smile.
“Today’s match was much closer and I think I’m playing better. I just need to take it to the end of the year also, because I don’t think I played very well in the last couple of weeks. So I think it’s good for me, this performance this week.”
Despite the defeat, Pe’er will remain in New York for at least one more day after advancing to the third round of the doubles tournament late Saturday night.
Pe’er and Monica Niculescu, seeded 13th, beat Alexa Glatch and Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (4) and will face top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta in the last 16.
On Sunday, Williams closed out the first game of the match with an ace, but Pe’er also held her serve and began to find her rhythm as the encounter progressed.
The Israeli claimed the first break of the afternoon in the fifth game, only to drop her serve in the subsequent game after Venus lifted her level of play.
The same pattern would follow in the next two games, with Shahar breaking before immediately dropping her serve.
After both players held serve in the following three games, Williams reached five set points in the 12th game, but a sensational effort by Pe’er saw her keep her serve and force a tiebreak.
However, the American would dominate the breaker, racing into a 5-1 lead before claiming a 7-3 victory thanks to a superb forehand.
Pe’er’s interim American coach, Craig Kardon, who has previously coached Martina Navratilova, Jennifer Capriati and Ana Ivanovic, did his best to encourage his player from the stands, but after she was broken to love in the third game of the second set it was clear there was going to be only one winner.
Pe’er had a chance to break in the sixth game, but she couldn’t make it count, and despite breaking to close to 5-3, she would lose her serve and the match in the next game.
“Winning the first set always feels good and gives you a big advantage,” Williams said. “She played so well, especially under these conditions. It is not easy.”

Howard Blas contributed to this report