Saturday, June 28, 2008

Peer shocks Safina to slide into Wimbledon fourth round

Last update - 02:57 29/06/2008

Shahar Peer, seeded 24 at Wimbledon, upset 9th-seed Dinara Safina in the
tournament's third round 7-5, 6-7, 8-6 Saturday night to win her first spot in the tournament's fourth round. The epic extra-sets battle lasted nearly three and a half hours.

The Israeli will now face Russia's Elena Dementieva, defeated by Safina at the semifinals at the French Open earlier this month. Safina made it to the finals of that tournament before losing to Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in the final.

After winning the first set 7-5 and leading 4-1 in the second, Safina evened the score at 4-4. Peer took a 5-4 lead and even had a match point, but Safina eventually won the set in a 7-4 tiebreaker.

In the third set, Safina looked confident as she led 5-3, but Peer won three games in a row to make it 6-5, as Safina began suffering from a leg cramp. Peer had a second match point but could not wrap up the match as Safina won the 12th game to make it 6-6.

Safina had come within a point of defeat in successive matches at Roland Garros, raising hopes of staging another great escape Saturday night.

After a topsy-turvy contest featuring angry outbursts, medical timeouts and code violations, Safina eventually limped out on Peer's fourth match point, falling after three hours and 25 minutes with a tame double fault.

Peer's next match-up is fifth-seeded Dementieva, who beat Gisela Dulko 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.

The win marks the best effort of Peer's 2008 season, which until Wimbledon, was considered the worst of her professional career.

Safina defeated compatriot and world No.1 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round of Roland Garros. In the quarterfinals, she stunningly battled back from the brink of defeat for a second straight match to earn a place in her first Grand Slam semifinal, coming from 5-2 down in the second set to defeat Dementieva 4-6, 7-6, 6-0 before losing to Ivanovic in the final.

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