Tennis: Mauresmo humbles Pe'er in quarters

Wimbledon champion knocks Israeli star out of running in Eastbourne.

peer tough 88 (photo credit: )
peer tough 88
(photo credit: )
Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo was too strong for Shahar Pe'er on Thursday, defeating Israel's best and knocking her out at the quarterfinal stage of the International Women's Open in Eastbourne, England. Pe'er, who is ranked 16th in the world, was on her back foot throughout the match, losing 6-3, 6-4 after struggling to cope with Mauresmo's (4) serve. The Frenchwomen served 11 aces in the match, keeping Pe'er at bay whenever the Israeli threatened. Despite the defeat, Pe'er can be pleased with her overall performance on Eastbourne's grass courts ahead of next week's Wimbledon tournament where she's seeded 16th. "It was a bigger test than yesterday but I thought I still controlled the match pretty well today," Mauresmo said. "I lost a little bit of intensity in the beginning of the second set and she was able to break me, but I really focused and got the intensity back and made sure I was going to break her back right away and finish really strong." Mauresmo began the match with an ace, but Pe'er broke in the first game after the Frenchwoman put a backhand in the net. The Israeli was broken back immediately and three straight aces by Mauresmo gave her a 2-1 lead. The Frenchwoman got the first break of the match in the sixth game and wrapped up the first set three games later with a forehand winner. After the first five games of the second set went according to serve, Pe'er recorded her first break of the match and opened a 4-2 lead. Mauresmo, however, broke back in the subsequent game and tied the score with a love game (4-4). Pe'er saved one break point in the ninth game, but presented the Frenchwoman with the crucial break of serve after sending a backhand long. The Israeli squandered two break points in the following game and Mauresmo completed the victory with a forehand volley at the end of a long rally. World No. 1 Justine Henin also reached the semifinals on Thursday, defeating Nicole Vaidisova (14) 6-2, 6-2. The top-ranked Belgian made few mistakes at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament, serving and returning well and attacking from both sides. Henin won the first five game of the match and easily took the first set. Vaidisova played better in the second set, making fewer errors and mixing in some effective drop shots. Henin soon took control again, however, winning 12 of 14 points from 2-2. "I was very happy with the way I played, and the way I served especially," said Henin, who won her fourth French Open title earlier this month. "My attitude and the way I played tactically was very good and she never really had the time to get a rhythm and really get into the match." Russian Nadia Petrova (11) needed three hours and two injury timeouts to beat Sybille Bammer (22) of Austria 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4. The Russian first received treatment for a back strain and then cramping in her left thigh in the third set. Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli (20) will play Henin in the semis after defeating Elena Dementieva (12) of Russia 6-1, 6-0. At the men's Wimbledon warm Ivo Karlovic reached the semifinals of the Nottingham Open on Thursday with a 7-6 (10), 7-5 win over Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina. Karlovic saved three set points in the first set tiebreaker before, at 11-10 up, the umpire called a let after the Croat's shot was called long by a line judge. The 61st-ranked player then hit a passing shot to win the set. The second set was tied at 5-5 when rain forced a break, after which Karlovic broke and then held to advance. Rain also affected the other quarterfinals at the key Wimbledon warmup. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez took the first set against second-seeded Dmitry Tursunov 6-4 but trailed 5-3 in the second when the weather forced the players off. Fourth-seeded Jonas Bjorkman, last year's runner-up, won the first game of his match against Paul-Henri Mathieu on serve before the pair had to leave the court. Two-time defending champion Richard Gasquet, who has never lost at Nottingham, was waiting to play fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement in the day's final match. AP contributed to this report.