Tennis: Pe'er celebrates back-to-back WTA titles

Tennis Peer celebrates

Shahar Peer 248.88 (photo credit: )
Shahar Peer 248.88
(photo credit: )
After falling all the way down to No. 68 in the world last month, Shahar Pe'er climbed on Monday to No. 34 in the WTA Tour rankings following her victory in the Tashkent Open in Uzbekistan on Sunday. The 22-year-old defeated hometown favorite Akgul Amanmuradova (89th in the world) 6-3, 6-4 in the Sunday's final, claiming her second straight title after winning the Guangzhou Open in China last week. Pe'er's decision to play some smaller tournaments in recent weeks has more than paid off. She has claimed 10 straight Tour wins and 20 consecutive sets, and besides soaring up the rankings, is also $72,000 richer, and perhaps most importantly, has given herself a much-needed confidence boost. "I am very, very happy to have won back-to-back tournaments, especially without losing a set," said Pe'er, who will take a break this week before beginning her participation in the massive $4,500,000 China Open in Beijing next week. "It shows that my tennis is improving and that I am playing well during important points. I really want and hope to keep the momentum going in the next few tournaments and through the end of the year." Pe'er recorded the first break of the match in the fifth game of the first set and held her serve with ease before breaking the Uzbek again in the ninth game to clinch the set. The Israeli dropped her serve for the first time in the match in the first game of the second set, but reeled off the next three games to move into a commanding position. Pe'er would go on to drop her serve three more times in the set, but dominated Amanmuradova's second serve, winning 22 of 27 points throughout the match, including 12 of 12 in the second set, and wrapped up the win with another break of serve in the 10th game. "I played good tennis in the final. It was a difficult match mentally, but I am happy that I closed the match in two sets and won the tournament," Pe'er said. "I want to wish everyone a Shana Tova and Gmar Hatima Tova." Elsewhere, Dinara Safina and Venus Williams were both knocked out of the second round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Monday by opponents who had come through qualifying. Chang Kai-chen, an 18-year-old Taiwanese qualifier, beat top-ranked and defending champion Safina 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5, while Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated No. 2 seed Williams 7-6 (6), 7-5 to reach the third round. Safina was serving for the match in the third set when she double-faulted to give up a break. Chang, ranked 132nd and playing only for the fourth time in a WTA main draw, held her own serve and then broke Safina again for victory. A dejected Williams made a hasty exit from Ariake Colosseum, saying only she was looking forward to her next match in Beijing. Williams took a 3-0 lead in the first set and looked set for a comfortable win but Pavlyuchenkova fought back, breaking Williams to tie the set 5-5 before holding serve and then winning the tiebreak. Pavlyuchenkova hit a forehand down the line to go up 6-5 in the second set. She had a triple match point in the 12th game and won when Williams' return was long. Meanwhile, Japan's Kimiko Date Krumm became the oldest player to win a WTA tournament since Billie Jean King when she capped a remarkable comeback by beating second-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain 6-3, 6-3 to claim the Korea Open title Sunday. The title was Date Krumm's first in 13 years, and eighth of her career. Formerly ranked No. 4 in the world, she quit tennis in 1996 before returning to the sport last year. Date Krumm, who turned 39 on Monday, became the oldest woman to win a WTA title since Billie Jean King won one at Birmingham, England in 1983 at the age of 39 years, seven months and 23 days. "Yeah, of course, very happy," Date Krumm said of her win. "I realized one more time after this game that we don't know about tennis unless we actually play it." Date Krumm beat top-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and advanced to the final after rallying to beat defending champion Maria Kirilenko of Russia 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. She made short work of Medina Garrigues in the final, winning in one hour, 27 minutes. The Korea Open was Date Krumm's first WTA title since beating Spain's Arantxa Sanchez Vicario at San Diego in August 1996. AP contributed to this report