Tennis: Pe'er bows out in fourth round to Azarenka

Israeli still manages to advance to doubles semis; Nadal, Djokovic on course to clash.

shahar peer tennis 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
shahar peer tennis 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Shahar Pe'er's excellent run in the singles draw at Indian Wells came to an abrupt end on Tuesday, but at least she could console herself with advancing to the semifinals of the doubles event hours later. The 21-year-old Israeli (49 in the world) battled for an hour and 47 minutes against world number 11 Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round, but eventually succumbed 7-5, 6-4. Despite converting four of her five break points, Pe'er was on her back foot for most of the encounter, with Azarenka dominating the Israeli's service games, breaking six times. Next week Pe'er will look to build on her recent up-turn in form in another of the WTA's biggest events, in Miami, but first of all she'll try and make sure she at least leaves California with the doubles title. Pe'er and Gisela Dulko defeated Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 5-7, 6-3, 14-12, to progress to the last four and keep themselves in the chase for the $237,000 winners check. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic maintained his title defense by handling Tommy Haas of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (1) to ease into the fourth round. Haas had reached the quarterfinals for the last two years but third-seeded Djokovic did enough in the second set to stay on top and swept the last seven points of the tiebreaker. "I'm still finding the rhythm and everything," Djokovic said. "I don't want to put any extra pressure on myself. "I'm playing a very solid game for now and saving lots of energy and being focused, not underestimating my opponents and going step by step. The game, for now, it's quite fine." He is on course for a repeat semifinal with top-seeded Rafael Nadal, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Russian Dmitry Tursunov. Nadal's powerful groundstrokes kept the Russian off-balance and on the run, and Tursunov had troubles of his own, making 37 unforced errors. Nadal said he didn't play very well against Tursunov. "He didn't give me a lot of rhythm. He played good shots, but at the same time, he made mistakes," Nadal said. "I had more mistakes than usual. "But I won 6-3, 6-3, so it's a good win." Nadal next plays Argentine star David Nalbandian, who has a 2-0 record against the Spaniard. Nalbandian withstood 11 aces from Viktor Troicki of Serbia to win 6-4, 6-2. Later, Andy Roddick of the United States beat Germany's Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 7-6(4) in their night match. In the women's field, Vera Zvonareva's yearlong surge took her past Li Na 6-4, 6-4 and back into the quarterfinals. The Russian has reached the quarterfinals at Indian Wells for the fourth time in five visits, but has never advanced further. In her path will be a first-time match with ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Polish wild card Urszula Radwanska 7-5, 6-3. Radwanska's older sister, seventh-seeded Agnieszka, won against Agnes Szavay of Hungary 6-0, 5-7, 6-3. Zvonareva played in the most finals last year - eight - and held down a top-10 ranking. Then she reached her first Grand Slam semifinals at the Australian Open, cracked the top five, and followed that with the title at Pattaya City, Thailand last month. Top-seeded Dinara Safina put away American veteran Jill Craybas 7-5, 6-4 for the sixth time in six meetings, and faces eighth-seeded Azarenka of Belarus next. Russian teen Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova achieved her best career result by reaching the quarterfinals, leading Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-3, 3-0 when the Spaniard retired with a left hip strain. The 17-year-old Pavlyuchenkova beat second-seeded Jelena Jankovic in the previous round. Defending champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia took a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Italy's Flavia Pennetta in a match that ended just before midnight local time.