Shahar falls to Petrova in Maryland final

Pe’er downed in straight sets, still a good showing; Ram, Erlich ousted in LA; Serena loses.

shahar peer_311 reuters (photo credit: REUTERS)
shahar peer_311 reuters
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shahar Pe’er is still without a WTA Tour title in almost two years after losing 7-5, 6-2 to Nadia Petrova in the final of the Maryland Open on Sunday night.
The 24-year-old Israeli fell to 0-6 in her career against the Russian and is still searching for her first title since lifting the trophy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in September 2009.
Pe’er struggled to cope with Petrova’s first serve on Sunday, losing 30 of 36 points, and while she did manage to break the Russian twice, she dropped her serve a total of five times.
Despite the defeat, the past week will give Pe’er plenty of confidence ahead of the rest of the North American hardcourt season, something she acknowledged after her marathon semifinal 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 win over Tamira Paszek on Saturday.
“Obviously, it’s good. It feels great to win four matches in a row after so many months not doing that,” said Pe’er, who entered the Maryland Open on the back of five straight defeats, including four consecutive first-round exits.
“I want to keep going. It all depends on me. It was a great win, a very tough one. That gives me a lot of confidence. I’m in good shape and moving well. I’ll fight as hard as I can.”
Pe’er, ranked No. 24 in the world and seeded No. 1 in Washington, broke in the first game and took an early 2-0 lead. But Petrova (32) came right back and took the first set with her second break in the 12th game.
The second set started in identical fashion to the first, but Petrova reeled off the last four games to claim her 10th career title at the age of 29.
Elsewhere, on Saturday, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich were knocked out in the semifinals of the Los Angeles International, losing 7-6 (6), 6-7 (8), 10-4 to Somdev Devvarman and Treat Conrad Huey.
Meanwhile, comeback queen Serena Williams crushed Germany’s Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-2 to move into the final of the Stanford Classic on Saturday.
Williams met late Sunday night ninth ranked Marion Bartoli, who advanced when Slovakia’s Dominica Cibulkova was forced to withdraw due to a left abdominal strain.
After destroying Maria Sharapova 6- 1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, Williams lifted another gear against Wimbledon semifinalist Lisicki, dominating her from the backcourt, serving more accurately and pouncing on the German’s second serves.
It was only Williams’s 10th match since her comeback from a year-long battle with injuries and illness.

“This just continues my journey to do what I can and don’t stop and keep going for it,” said Williams, who won 82 percent of her first serve points and 13 of 17 points on the German’s second serves.
Williams won the first set when Lisicki sprayed a forehand volley, and sealed the match with two service winners.
Former number one Williams returned to the tour in late June, and won one match in Eastbourne before falling in the second round, and then as defending champion, reached the fourth round of Wimbledon before falling to Bartoli in straight sets.
“I was praying for confidence because this comeback is totally different than any other comeback that I ever had,” she said. “There are still shots I’m not going for and making that I will be able to make when I get more confident and more match play.”
Reuters contributed to this report.