Tennis: Pe'er loses again to Kuznetsova in straight sets

Ram/Erlich victory sets up quarterfinal showdown with No. 1 doubles team.

peer action 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
peer action 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er's preparation for the Australian Open came to a premature ending on Tuesday at the Sydney International. The 20-year-old Israeli lost 6-3, 6-4 to world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round of what was her last warm-up tournament before the year's first Grand Slam gets under way at Melbourne next week. Despite hitting 80 percent of her first serves in, Pe'er (17) was broken four times by Kuznetsova, who reached 12 break points. The Russian never trailed during Tuesday's encounter on her way to a second straight victory over the Israeli. Meanwhile, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich will face the world's No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan on Wednesday in the quarterfinals at Sydney. The Israeli duo defeated Gilles Simon and Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-2 on Tuesday, but will be a massive underdog against the Bryan brothers, who beat Max Mirnyi and Jamie Murray 6-4, 6-2 in the first round. Also Tuesday, Justine Henin advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sydney International without playing a match. The star Belgian player received a walkover Tuesday when Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic was unable to play her second-round match due to a strained buttock. A two-time Sydney champion, Henin had already received a first-round bye because she was among the tournament's top four seeds. She'll have a maximum of three more matches of preparation for the Australian Open starting Monday. Henin returned to the WTA Tour in mid-February last year after missing the 2007 Australian Open due to her marriage breakup. She won 10 of 14 tournaments and after her semifinal loss to Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon last year did not lose again in her next 25 matches. Other top-seeded players also advanced in women's play, with No. 3 Jelena Jankovic overcoming an upper right thigh injury she suffered last week at the Hopman Cup to down Tatiana Golovin of France 6-1, 2-6, 6-3. Fourth-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia beat Virginie Razzano of France 6-1, 2-6, 7-5. AP contributed to this report.