Shahar falls as Williamses reach quarters of Italian Open

The 23-year-old Israeli tennis player, ranked No. 21 in the world, gave her all against the No. 4.

Shahar Peer tennis Italian open 311 (photo credit: BSL)
Shahar Peer tennis Italian open 311
(photo credit: BSL)
Shahar Pe’er may well be playing the best tennis of her life at the moment, but that was still not enough to beat Venus Williams in the third round of the Italian Open on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 21 in the world, gave her all against the No. 4, but couldn’t cope with the stronger American’s serve, winning just 30 of 34 points when her opponent hit her first serve in and falling to a 6-3, 6-4 defeat.
Pe’er, who hit just eight winners to Venus’s 28, is still searching for her first win against a Williams’ sister, dropping on Wednesday to 0-8 in her career against Serena and her older sibling.
The fourth-seeded Venus, who had been sidelined with a knee problem since losing the Key Biscayne final, was solid against Pe’er. In the first set, she dropped only four points on serve and in the second she saved two break points at 3-4 before getting the decisive break in the next game.
Venus said she was especially happy with her serve and movement on clay.
She will have a tough quarterfinal against Jelena Jankovic, who was in impressive form as she rolled to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
The Serb player ousted Venus in the 2008 quarterfinals on her way to her second Rome title.
Meanwhile, top-ranked Serena Williams reached the quarterfinals in her first tournament in three months after defeating Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-2, 3-6, 6-0 on Wednesday.
Serena had been off the tour since she won the singles and doubles at the Australian Open, and she was entered in Rome thanks to a wild card.
Against the 49th-ranked Petkovic, Serena said she felt “rusty.” Her game was erratic at times and a mid-match slump cost her the second set. In the end she had almost as many winners as unforced errors, 25 to 21.
“I definitely felt extremely rusty today,” Serena said. “I’m glad I was able to win because at least I can be guaranteed another match. I think I definitely need it.”
Serena got off to a good start, winning the first set with a five-game streak. But she quickly fell 4-1 behind in the second, came back to 4-3 but conceded another, decisive break to Petkovic. In the third set, she picked up her game and played aggressively.
Serena next plays Maria Kirilenko of Russia, who defeated Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Serena said that after her three months off she needs to stay healthy and have match play. That’s why, she explained, she decided to skip social events at home and come to play the clay-court event in Rome instead.
Serena said she told herself to “forget Oprah and Anna Wintour” – who co-chaired the annual Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala Benefit on Monday in New York.
“I was supposed to be there. I had a fabulous dress,” Serena said. “Ithurt me ... I wanted to really be there but this is my career and Ineed the extra match.”
In other action at the Foro Italico, Nadia Petrova of Russia won 6-0,3-6, 6-2 against Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, who knocked outdefending champion Dinara Safina on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Dudi Sela (58) advanced to the quarterfinals of the IsraelOpen in Ramat Hasharon on Wednesday, beating Australia’s Nick Lindahl7-5, 6-3.
The No. 1 seed will face Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan (117) in the last eight on Thursday.
Sela is joined in the quarterfinals by Davis Cup teammate Harel Levy(122), who beat Alex Bogomolov (230) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Levy will playConor Niland (222) on Thursday after the Irishman surprised No. 3 seedRainer Schuettler (75) on Wednesday.