Wimbledon Tennis: Pe'er returns to form in SW19

Israeli number one easily dispatches Loit to set up Round 3 clash with Safina.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Shahar Pe'er is back in form. After a disappointing run which saw her knocked out of her last four tournaments in the first round, the 21-year-old Israeli star eased into the third round of Wimbledon on Thursday afternoon. Pe'er's 6-3, 6-4 victory over Frenchwoman Emile Loit set up a clash with number nine seed Dinara Safina, a player the Israeli has already beaten this year, including during the recent Fed Cup tie against Russia in Ramat Hasharon. Also Thursday, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich's men's doubles second round match against Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins was stopped due to bad light with the Israelis leading two sets to one but down 4-2 in the third. Pe'er, Ram and Erlich are the only Israelis still in the tournament. Needing 75 minutes to dispose of the Frenchwoman, Pe'er is now relishing the task of taking on the Russian as she looks to make it into the fourth round at SW19 for the first time. Pe'er, seeded 24 at Wimbledon, said she is looking forward to the match, which is expected to be played on Friday. "She's had a great recent run in the last month and has been playing very well. But I've beaten her once already this year so I have nothing to lose," Pe'er told The Jerusalem Post. "It should be a good match. She's a big girl serving wise and last week she reached a final on grass so I'm sure she's playing really well. She's ranked in the top 10 in the world so she's obviously better than my two previous opponents. Focusing on her return to form, Pe'er added: "As you progress in each tournament, the competition gets tougher. But there's still a lot more to come from me, and every round I'm getting better and better. It will be a tough one but I like challenges." Although she beat Loit in straight sets, breaking serve three times, Pe'er conceded it was a tricky match. "She was a tough opponent because she's very smart, she plays with a lot of touch and makes the ball move around," she said. "You have to be very smart around her because she takes a lot of power off your shot, but I played well at the good moments. I played really well when the break points were against me and that was very important. "I started the second set well, but so did she. At times I was 0-30 on my serve, she was playing unbelievably and I was thinking 'What should I do?' but I served really well at the times when it mattered." Safina defeated Su-Wei Hsieh of Thailand 6-3, 6-2 in Round 2 on Thursday and said she is still looking to improve. "I think I can play on grass. I have to be moving, I have to be stronger," Safina told the official Wimbledon Web site. "I still think I can serve better, and then I have a good return, so I have to be much more aggressive on the return." Before the Safina clash, Pe'er resumed her doubles campaign alongside Victoria Azarenka and she says playing in the competition also helps her in terms of getting match practice on the grass surface. "It helps to be involved in the doubles, but firstly I enjoy doing so and secondly I'm playing with Vic who's a good friend of mine and I really enjoy being on court with her," she said.