Serena Rolls Vaidisova, Peer Next in Miami

Posted on March 29, 2007

MIAMI, FL, USA - Shahar Peer and Serena Williams won straight set quarterfinals at the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open on Wednesday, setting up a semifinal rematch of their recent marathon Australian Open encounter.

Williams, the No.13 seed at the $3.45-million event, beat out No.8 seed Nicole Vaidisova in the feature night match, 61 64. The American cruised in the first set but encountered some resistance mid-way through the second set, going down 0-40 serving 3-4; but she won five straight points then broke to 15 in the next game, and served the match out at love, closing with two consecutive aces.

"She did play me tough," Williams said afterwards. "I was expecting her to play exactly how she played me in the second set. That's what I was expecting in the match, so I think when her coach came out, maybe he told her some things to try, and I just don't know what happened, really. I started making errors."

Williams is now 2-0 Vaidisova, having pulled off a more complicated two set win in the Australian Open semifinals earlier this year. She faced a set point down 5-4 in the first set and nearly allowed a 5-1 second set lead to evaporate during a 76(5) 64 win, before crushing Maria Sharapova in the championship final, 61 62.

The Sony Ericsson Open is quickly becoming somewhat of a reverse déjà vu of the 2007 Australian Open for Williams. In the fourth round in Miami she defeated Sharapova, and upon beating Vaidisova she set up a semifinal encounter with the event's No.14 seed, Shahar Peer, whom she beat in the quarters down under.

Peer played her quarterfinal earlier on Wednesday, routing No.24-seeded Italian veteran Tathiana Garbin, 60 63. The Israeli was in total control of the rallies against Garbin, pressing with penetrating groundstrokes and hard serves, ending each set with powerful forehand winners. She is now into her first Tier I semi.

"It's my first time getting to the semifinals of a Tier I or big tournament - I have been waiting for this for a long time," Peer said. "I was expecting a much tougher match because Tathiana is a good player, and very tough. But every time I got to the quarterfinals I was losing, so maybe it was my turn to win."

Peer and Garbin were playing for the very first time.

Four becomes two: semifinals take the court on Thursday

Two of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's all-time most accomplished players will see two of the most promising future stars across the net from them on Thursday, as the $3.45-million Sony Ericsson Open semifinals take the court.

First up in the afternoon session is current world No.1 Justine Henin taking on Russian rising star Anna Chakvetadze. Although she has won five Grand Slams and is currently spending her 58th non-consecutive week at the top of the rankings, Henin is playing the Miami semifinals for the first time. Chakvetadze is in the same situation at this event. The two have played once before, with the Belgian winning, 62 63, in the third round of Wimbledon last year. But the Russian is a much more dangerous player now than she was then; she has had seven Top 10 wins since that match, and also made her own Top 10 debut in February.

Playing the second match at night will be Serena Williams and Shahar Peer. It's the third time this rivalry will take the court with Williams prevailing in two sets at this tournament two years ago, and in three hard-fought sets, 36 62 86, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January. Peer gave Williams all sorts of problems in that match down under, rallying back from a 4-1 hole in the last set and even having a chance to serve it out before eventually falling. She has not had an easy trail to her first Tier I semifinal, having to get by defending champion and world No.3 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the round of 16.

The championship final is set for Saturday. (WTA)