Tennis: Safina ousts Pe'er, then beats Hingis in Gold Coast final

The Russian makes a remarkable comeback to beat the Israeli 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-1, in the rain-disrupted match.

peer loses 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
peer loses 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Shahar Pe'er came within two points of advancing to the final of the Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourt Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, on Friday morning, but Russia's Dinara Safina made a remarkable comeback to complete a 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-1, victory in the rain-disrupted match. The Israeli, who is currently 20th in the world but will rise two places when the new rankings are published on Monday, led by a set and 5-1 at one stage, but her momentum came to halt as a freak rainstorm stopped play after the seventh game of the set. The match turned when play resumed and the Russian took 10 of the next 12 games to wrap up the victory in two hours 15 minutes. "I'm not happy. You can't be up 6-4, 5-1, lose a match and be happy," a dejected Pe'er said. "I didn't feel differently after the rain, but until 5-1, I was not missing anything and then I started missing. Maybe I lost concentration. "I'll make sure that next time I'm in this position, I'll take advantage and close it out on my first service game." Safina (11), who will climb into the world's top 10 for the first time in her career after beating Martina Hingis (7) 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, in Saturday's final, was full of praise for the Israeli. "She was playing like No. 1; I couldn't believe it," Safina said. "Then she had 6-4, 5-1, and I just started going for my shots. I held serve then we had the rain break. I saw her and she seemed to be a little nervous, and I thought, this is it, I have to go for it. "I suppose I was a little lucky, but my shots just started going in." After splitting the first eight games on the match, with each player breaking once, Pe'er broke Safina's serve to love and served for the first set. The Russian led 40-0 in the subsequent game, but the Maccabim native fought back and claimed the game and the set. Pe'er broke serve in the first game of the second set and a second break in the fifth game gave her the 4-1 lead. The Israeli won the following game and seemed to be on the way to her first final of 2007, but Safina took the seventh game of the set. Then came the rain. The short break was perfectly timed for Safina and the Russian reeled off four straight games to take a 6-5 lead. Pe'er tied the score in the following game and sent the set into a tiebreaker. Safina dominated the tiebreak, dropping only a single point, and sent the match into a decisive third set. Safina surged forward at the start of the third set and broke Pe'er three times on the way to a 5-0 lead. The Israeli managed to claim the sixth game, but Marat Safin's younger sister closed out the match the following game. Pe'er will have an opportunity to put the disappointing loss behind her early on Sunday morning when she plays German Anna-Lena Groenefeld (19) in the first round of the Sydney Medibank International tournament.