Tennis: Pe'er makes US Open quarter finals

Israeli tennis player reaches second grand slam quarterfinal of the year; first in US Open.

Shahar Peer 88 (photo credit: AP)
Shahar Peer 88
(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er continued to rewrite Israeli sports record books on Monday night, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open in New York. Pe'er, who reached the last eight of the Australian Open earlier this year, is the first Israeli to progress more than once to the quarterfinal stage of a Grand Slam tournament. Shlomo Glickshtein and Amos Mansdorf are the only other Israelis to ever advance to such a late stage of a Grand Slam event, but within nine months the 20-year-old Pe'er has overtaken their stellar achievements. Pe'er served superbly (69 percent), limiting her opponent to just two break points throughout the one hour and 12 minute encounter. The Israeli, who is ranked No. 19 in the world, will next face the winner of the fourth round match between No. 6 seed Anna Chakvetadze and Tamira Paszek which was played late Monday night,. Radwanska (32), who defeated No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova in the third round, was the more composed of the two players at the start of the match and broke Pe'er in the second game to open a 2-0 lead. The Israeli broke back immediately and tied the score (2-2) with an ace in the following game. A forehand winner gave Pe'er a 4-2 lead and completed an excellent run that saw the Israeli win 12 of 13 points. Pe'er continued to hold serve throughout the remainder of the first set and clinched it in the 10th game. The Israeli's eighth consecutive point on Radwanska's serve gave her a 4-1 second set advantage and soon after she secured her place in the last eight. Pe'er and Italian partner Tathiana Garbin, who are seeded 12th in the doubles tournament, faced No. 7 seeds Nathalie Dechy and Dinara Safina in the third round late Monday night. Dechy and Andy Ram, who won the French Open mixed doubles tournament in the beginning of June, advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open late Sunday night, defeating Yoni Erlich and Chia-Jung Chuang 6-2, 6-3. The Israeli/French duo faced No. 3 seeds Mark Knowles and Zi Yan in the last eight late Monday. Also Monday, former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-3 Monday to reach the quarterfinals. And Andy Roddick advanced in the men's competition after his opponent Tomas Berdych retired. Kuznetsova needed five match points in the final set to win. She finished it off with a strong, crosscourt forehand that Azarenka chased into the corner, losing her hat on the way. Earlier in the set, the fourth-seeded Kuznetsova was the one who tried without success to track down a shot. In the sixth game, the 2004 champion charged toward the net and skidded, doing the splits and winding up sprawled on the court. The Russian got up easily and went on to eliminate the 18-year-old from Belarus. Kuznetsova next plays another unseeded opponent, Agnes Szavay of Hungary. Szavay moved on by defeating Julia Vakulenko of Ukraine 6-4, 7-6 (1). Ranked No. 31, Szavay is playing in her first US Open - her two other previous Grand Slam appearances ended in second-round losses at Wimbledon and the French Open this year. If it's the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, it must be time for Serena Williams vs. Justine Henin. They have been at the forefront of women's tennis the past few years - and they sure can't seem to escape each other lately. When Williams and Henin were due to square off Tuesday, they were to be playing at that stage in a third consecutive major. "We both have a lot of character and a lot of personality. We both have been very strong mentally on the court in the last few years. She won Grand Slams; I did. She's been No. 1 and I've been," said Henin, who currently tops the rankings. "Now let's go and play, and we'll see what's going to happen." "I'm going in feeling like I don't have anything to lose," said Williams, who is seeded No. 8 after falling out of the top 100 last year because of a lack of activity. "I just feel different now, excited about the prospect of meeting her again." If Williams can get past Henin this time, she could find another, even more familiar foe in the semifinals: older sister Venus. Both siblings were downright dominant against recent Grand Slam finalists Sunday, with Serena Williams beating Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-4, a few hours before Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals by eliminating French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2. "Serena reminds me of a pit bull dog and a young Mike Tyson, all in one. Venus reminds me of a gazelle that's able to move, prance and jump," father Richard Williams said. "Venus looks as if she is really enjoying herself out there more than Serena is right now. If they get by everyone and meet each other, it will be an interesting match." His daughters could meet in the semifinals. They have met more than a dozen times overall, with Serena holding a 5-1 advantage in Grand Slam finals. "That would be awesome because it would mean that there is a Williams in the final," said Venus, who will have to beat No. 3 Jelena Jankovic first. Much like Henin-Williams, Jankovic-Williams has been lopsided lately at the majors: Jankovic has won their past three matches, including Wimbledon in 2006 and the French Open this year. "I've definitely improved since then and gotten healthier," Venus said. "I feel a lot better and gotten stronger."