Peer Ousts Wozniacki
Published Feburary 17, 2010 12:00
DUBAI, UAE - Venus Williams may not have been the favorite for the title on paper at the start of the week but now she most certainly is. Seeded No.3 at the $2-million stop, Williams became the highest seed left after the respective Wednesday departures of Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Wozniacki, seeded No.1 at an event of this size for the first time in her young career, was the first of the Top 2 to fall, losing to Shahar Peer - who last year wasn't even allowed to participate in the tournament due to her visa being denied by the UAE - in straight sets, 62 75. Wozniacki battled hard in the end, fighting back from a break down three times in the second set - but the Israeli ended it.
"In the end it was a little bit difficult but I think I played very well and am very happy about the match," said Peer, who lost to Wozniacki in two quick sets just recently at the Aussie Open. "When I played her in Australia, I played well in the first set but didn't take my chances. I knew this time I had to take them - she never gives up. She's always there. She's always trying to find a way."
"She played well today. She really did. She was changing the rhythm and going in and attacking the balls," Wozniacki said. "It was my first time in Dubai. I thought it was a nice tournament. The hotel is nice, the courts are nice... so I enjoyed my stay here. Now I'm going to get ready for Indian Wells."
Kuznetsova, the No.2 seed, lost a three-hour, 16-minute marathon to marathon woman Regina Kulikova. Kulikova played in the famed Aussie Open match that went down as the second-longest women's singles match in the Open Era (she lost); a qualifier into the main draw here and having never beaten a Top 30 player, she came back from 1-4 in the third to beat the No.3-ranked Kuznetsova, 57 76(2) 64. Highlights: Kulikova vs. Kuznetsova
Williams looked in trouble early against an unseeded Olga Govortsova, falling behind 5-3 in the first set, but then she went on a tear of 10 games in row to shut the the Belarusian out, 75 60. Highlights: V.Williams vs. Govortsova
"I started the match down a double break. Wasn't ideal, but I just had to start from where I was and not get frustrated about it. And obviously Svetlana's match before me, I saw you can come back from anything," Williams said. "I stayed focused and after winning the first set I felt my odds were even better."
Other winners in the day session were No.4 seed Victoria Azarenka, who got past qualifier Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 61 46 63; No.7 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who routed No.10 seed Flavia Pennetta, 63 60; and No.8 seed Li Na, who won 11 straight games from 63 52 down to beat No.11 seed Marion Bartoli, 36 75 60. Highlights: A.Radwanska vs. Pennetta
In the night matches, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Daniela Hantuchova, 63 64, then No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic lost to No.12 seed Vera Zvonareva handily, 63 62. Highlights: Pavlyuchenkova vs. Hantuchova