Shahar, Dudi divine in New York

Israeli tennis stars both advance in US Open.

Peer 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Peer 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Pe’er reached the third round of the US Open for a second straight time on Wednesday, while Dudi Sela recorded his first Grand Slam win in over a year to advance to the second round of the men’s tournament at Flushing Meadows.
Pe’er, seeded number 16 in New York, showed some improvement from her first round performance, beating Pauline Parmentier (105) of France 6-2, 6-3 in an hour and nine minutes.
However, the 23-year-old Israeli, who has struggled in recent months, reaching just one quarterfinal in her past six tournaments, will have to play far better if she has any intention of defeating her next opponent, No. 19 seed Flavia Pennetta, who has made the quarterfinals at the US Open in the last two years.
Pe’er’s biggest concern will be the fact that she made just 47 percent of her first serves against Parmentier and hit a disappointing 24 unforced errors.
Pennetta claimed a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Agnes Szavay to reach the third round and has beaten Pe’er in three of their previous four meetings.
However, Pe’er had the upper hand when they last met at Indian Wells earlier this year and she will be desperate to improve on last season’s third round exit at the US Open.
While Pe’er was expected to at least progress as far as the third round, Sela’s (95) straight-sets victory over Xavier Malisse (50) was some what of a surprise.
The 25-year-old hadn’t played a competitive match in over three weeks, and despite claiming the Vancouver Challenger title when he was last on court, he recorded little success against the world’s best in recent months.
However, on Wednesday, Sela came back from a 5-2 first set deficit to claim a 7-6 (1), 7- 5, 6-2 victory over Malisse in two hours and 18 minutes.
“It feels really good to win a Grand Slam match,” said Sela, whose last victory in a major came at Wimbledon last year.
“I’m playing Youzhny next and that will be tough. But I feel good and I’m ready.”
Youzhny, the No. 12 seed, defeated Sela when they last played in the first round of Wimbledon in June, but the Israeli can at least draw some confidence from beating the Russian during the Davis Cup quarterfinals last year.
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich faced each other in the first round of the doubles draw late Thursday night. The encounter between Ram and partner Julian Knowle against Erlich and Jordan Kerr was tied at a set apiece at press time.