Peer through to Qatar third round

Ivanovic, Kuznetsova, and Sharapova also advance in windy conditions.

    Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer battles her
    opponent and the wind in Doha [Chris Wang]
    Shahar Peer, tournament 12th seed, advanced to the third round of the WTA Qatar Open with a tough 6-1, 7-6 victory over France's Virginie Razzano in extremely windy conditions at the Khalifa International Tennis complex in Doha.

    Peer, making her Doha debut as the first Israeli to play a tour event in the Gulf region, came from 1-5 down in the second set, winning a stunning five straight games and then a tie-break, to overcome the gutsy Razzano.

    Other winners on day three of the tournament included top seed Ana Ivanovic, second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova, and sixth seed Venus Williams, who all advanced to the final 16.

    But it is Peer who has grabbed most of the headlines in the early rounds, as the Israeli makes her way through the draw of the $2.5 million event on Arab courts.

    The 20-year-old took just 30 minutes to breeze through the first set in highly difficult conditions as a blustery cold front swept through the Gulf state.

    However Razzano, who twice called for her coach and also took an injury time-out when leading 3-0 in the second set, lifted her game and had three chances to serve the set out as Peer began to struggle with her rhythm.

    But at 1-5 down and facing a third set, Peer reeled off five straight games to lead 6-5, and although she was then broken to send the set to a tie-break, she easily accounted for the ailing Razzano 7-3.

    Feeling good

    "I feel good. Today it was a little bit difficult to play for all the players. It was really tough conditions, but I'm really happy I won today," Peer said at the post-match press conference.

    "I've never played in conditions like this. I guess for most of us it's the most difficult conditions. None of us have had a chance to play in this kind of wind.

    "But I played a good tie-break, and I'm happy I found a way to win the second set and not go to a third one."

    Kuznetsova, who defeated France's Nathalie Dechy 7-5, 7-5 first up on centre court, said the gusty conditions were "crazy".

    "It was very, very difficult. I haven't played in wind like this for ages," the current world number two said.

    "It's crazy, because you can not really control the ball, you have to be clever and create something because it's a very unpredictable situation.

    "It was very hard and I'm just glad to get through."

    Sharapova pushed

    Later, Sharapova, 2004 champion, was pushed to three sets by 126th ranked Galina Voskoboeva, who came through the qualifying rounds in Doha.

    Sharapova won the first set 6-4, but the unheralded Voskoboeva turned the tables with a 6-4 second set win of her own to take her Russian compatriot to a decider.

    However the Australian Open champion showed all her experience to defeat  Voskoboeva 6-1 in the final set and set up a third round clash with Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn, who stunned 14th seed Amelie Mauresmo 7-6, 7-5.

    Another big name to make an early exit was Russian fifth seed Anna Chakvetadze who was bundled out in straight-sets 7-6, 6-4 by China's Na Li, Peer's next opponent.

    "She's a very, very good player, I mean she beat Anna [Chakvetadze] who is a very good player," Peer said of Li, who she has never played before.

    "I'm expecting a tough match, but all the players here are good, so I'm just going to go out on the court and give everything."

    Williams, who is also making her Doha debut, made easy work of Italy's Karin Knapp in a 6-2, 6-3 victory, while there was an injury scare for the top-seeded Ivanovic who badly sprained her ankle late in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Belarusian Olga Govortsova.

    Ivanovic went over heavily on her left ankle, forcing her to the ground in tears on centre court when leading 5-1 and at 30-30 in the seventh game of the second set.

    The Serb, who is currently ranked third in the world, completed the match but is a major doubt for her third round meeting with Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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