Peer, Stosur Meet for Prague Title

Posted on May 13, 2006

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Shahar Peer, who was left as the highest-ranked player in the ECM Prague Open 2006 by Ceska sporitelna draw after the top two seeds were eliminated in the opening round, upheld her tournament favorite status Saturday by cruising into the final of the Tier IV event. She will face Samantha Stosur for the title.

Peer, ranked No.35 in the world and the No.3 seed this week, was in total control of her semifinal match against unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi, winning 63 60 in their first meeting. Kanepi was responsible for ousting top seed Marion Bartoli in the first round.

"I was very happy with the way I was playing," said Peer, whose best result on clay prior to this week was a quarterfinal finish at Istanbul last year. "I'm waiting for the final. I hope to do well. We will see afterwards."

Peer is now through to her second career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles final. In her first, she cruised past Croatia's Jelena Kostanic to capture her maiden title on the hard courts of Pattaya City in February.

Awaiting the Israeli rising star in Sunday's final will be No.5 seed Samantha Stosur, a 63 61 victor over No.7 seed Peng Shuai of China. Stosur has also explored uncharted territory in Prague, having never advanced beyond the quarterfinals of a clay court event prior to this week. The 22-year-old Australian, currently the world's top-ranked doubles player, is through to her third career Tour singles final, having recorded back-to-back runner-up finishes in January 2005 at Gold Coast and Sydney.

Peer and Stosur have played once previously, with the Israeli teen winning 61 63 on the green clay courts of Amelia Island last spring. Ranked outside the Top 100 at the time, Peer went on to lose in the next round of that tournament to Anastasia Myskina in three sets. Stosur went on to win the doubles title with compatriot Bryanne Stewart.

Peer will also have the chance at becoming just the second player this season to win both singles and doubles titles at the same event, as she contests the doubles final with Bartoli. The No.2-seeded duo will face unseeded American team Ashley Harkleroad and Bethanie Mattek, who upset No.4 seeds Gabriela Navratilova and Michaela Pastikova 63 26 75 on Saturday to reach the final. The Americans were also responsible for the departure of top seeds Martina Navratilova and Barbora Strycova, upsetting them in straight sets in the second round.

Last year, Prague made its return as a Tour stop after a six-year absence, with Dinara Safina taking down Zuzana Ondraskova in the championship match. Prior to 2005, the last time an event was held in the Czech capital was in 1998, when Jana Novotna continued her dream run after her Wimbledon win with a championship defeat of Sandrine Testud. Other previous Prague winners include Amanda Coetzer, Julie Halard-Decugis, Ruxandra Dragomir and Joanette Kruger. (WTA)