Heroic Peer is out in quarters
SHAHAR PEER’S dream of reaching her first grand slam semi-final ended in heroic defeat at the hands of former world number one Serena Williams at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
The 19-year-old — the first Israeli woman to reach the last eight at one of the majors — took the first set against the 2001 and 2003 winner and served for the match in the decider before succumbing 3-6, 6-2, 8-6.
The Kiryat Shmona resident, who was seeded 16th for the competition, remained upbeat after her tigerish performance.
“I’m eating my heart out at the missed opportunity [when serving for the match],” she reflected. “I did not perform as I should in that particular game, but Serena is a champion and knows how to handle pressure situations.
“She came up with big serves when it mattered and I could do very little apart from applaud her. I did not cry after the match like I have done after some of my defeats and will keep working hard to earn a place in the world’s top 10.”
A triumphant Williams was generous in her praise for the talented Israeli, predicting that “she will definitely make the top 10 very soon.”
Benny Pasik, a sports correspondent for Israeli radio, also forecast a bright future for the teenager.
“Peer’s progress in the past few years and her performances in 2007 show she is well on the way to becoming Israel’s greatest sports star.”
She will now rise to at least 15 in the world, equalling the highest ranking for an Israeli achieved by Anna Smashnova.
Seventh-seeded doubles pair Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich crashed out 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 in round three to Mahesh Bhupathi and Radek Stepanek.
Ram, together with Russian partner Vera Zvonereva, failed to find the form which led them to the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon last summer, bowing out at the first hurdle with a straight sets defeat to the Australian pair of Chris Guccione and Casey Dellacqua.
Shahar Peer makes a return in her quarter-final thriller against Serena Williams at the Australian Open in Melbourne