Pe’er, Sela better be ready

The Israelis will have to overcome big names at Wimbledon.

Shahar Peer tennis Italian open 311 (photo credit: BSL)
Shahar Peer tennis Italian open 311
(photo credit: BSL)
If Shahar Pe’er and Dudi Sela hope to repeat their previous strong performances at Wimbledon, they will have to overcome a pair of big names in their respective opening matches.
Both Israelis were dealt tough first-round opponents in Friday’s draw at the All-England Club for the prestigious Grand Slam, which begins on Monday in London. Pe’er, who is ranked a career-high No. 14 in the world and seeded 13th at the tournament, will face former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, while on the men’s side, unseeded Sela (world No. 60) will go up against 13th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
Ivanovic has struggled mightily since her French Open victory in 2008, plummeting to her current world ranking of 45 and unseeded status at Wimbledon.
In both previous meetings with the Serb, Pe’er has emerged victorious, with their most recent encounter coming in 2007. Nevertheless, Ivanovic poses a challenge for the 23-year-old Israeli, who hopes to improve on her career-best fourth-round showing at the event in 2008.
Sela, who made a surprise run into the second week of Wimbledon in 2009, is coming off a confidenceboosting victory over Andy Roddick at the Queen’s last week. He also beat Youzhny 3–6, 6–1, 6–0, 7–5 at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv in a Davis Cup quarterfinals tie between Russia and Israel in July 2009.
In doubles action, Andy Ram and partner Julian Knowle (seeded 8th) will take on Eric Butorac and Rajeev Ram in the first round at Wimbledon, while Yoni Erlich and Serbian partner Dusan Vernic open against Martin Damm and Filip Polasek.
Roger Federer was handed a tough draw Friday in his bid for a record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title.
The defending champion and top-seeded Federer was drawn in the same top half with Roddick, Novak Djokovic and former champion Lleyton Hewitt.
Federer beat Roddick in a marathon five-set final last year.
Second-seeded and 2008 winner Rafael Nadal has Andy Murray and Robin Soderling in the bottom half of the draw.
Federer, winner of 16 Grand Slam titles, will open Monday against Colombia’s 65th-ranked Alejandro Falla. Federer hasn’t lost a set in four previous matches with Falla, including a 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 rout at Wimbledon in 2004 and 6-1, 6-2 win on grass in Halle, Germany, last week.
Nadal plays Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the first round.
In the women’s draw, the Williams sisters are seeded to meet again in the final for the fifth time.
Top-seeded and three-time champion Serena has former winner Maria Sharapova and French Open runner- up Samantha Stosur in her half. Five-time champion Venus has Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, both returning to Wimbledon after coming out of retirement, in her half.
Serena will play 148thranked Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in the opening round, while Venus opens against Paraguay’s Rossana De Los Rios.