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No Peer pressure for Dementieva

January 08, 2009 16:53 IST

A noticeable presence of protestors outside the venue failed to stop Olympic champion Elena Dementieva from marching into the semi-finals of the Auckland Classic on Thursday.

The top seed was largely untroubled during a 6-3, 6-1 win over fifth-seeded Israeli Shahar Peer and will now meet Aravane Rezai after the Frenchwoman dispatched Romania's Edina Gallovits 6-3, 6-2.

About 20 peace activists had staged a noisy protest outside the venue in central Auckland against Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip and the presence of Peer at the tournament, local media reported.

The protestors did not disrupt the match and Peer was warmly applauded by spectators when she went on court against Dementieva, though the Russian suggested the political situation may have effected the 21-year-old.

"I'm sure it was a tough day for her because of the situation in her country," Dementieva told reporters after the 63-minute match. "I sure it was not easy to play for her. I just know she can play better tennis next week."

Peer had started strongly, taking a 3-2 lead in the first set before her game fell apart and the world number four reeled off nine successive games to set up victory.

"We've played before so I knew what I wanted to do on court," Dementieva said.

"It looked easy, but it was not that easy. She is a very tough player."

Peer, who was making her third appearance at Auckland, was defiant about the protests that had dogged her all week.

"I'm not the government of Israel and I'm not representing Israel as a politician," she told reporters.

"I'm a tennis player and that's what I represent now."

Britain's Anne Keothavong also advanced to the semi-finals after her opponent, Japanese qualifier Ayumi Morita, retired with a hamstring injury. Keothavong had won the first set 6-0.

Russia's Elena Vesnina will meet Keothavong after she upset second-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.

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