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Peer brushes off protests to advance

ISRAEL'S Shahar Peer ignored threatened protests over her country's military action in the Gaza Strip to reach the quarterfinals of the Auckland Classic yesterday.

The world No. 39 was given extra security for her second round match after an Auckland-based protest group urged her to withdraw from the tournament because of Israel's invasion of Gaza.

Despite the distraction, Peer beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

"I have nothing to do with this," the fifth-seeded Peer told reporters.

"I'm Shahar Peer. I came here to play tennis. I know I'm from Israel and I'm proud of my country and that playing tennis is what I'm going to do tomorrow."

Joining Peer in the last eight were top seeds Elena Dementieva and Caroline Wozniacki.

On a day when seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues, Aleksandra Wozniak, Nicole Vaidisova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Carla Suarez Navarro all perished in straight sets, Dementieva and Wozniacki restored some calm.

Top seed Dementieva silenced the vocal partisan crowd as she easily beat New Zealander Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-3, while second-seeded Dane Wozniacki beat Jill Craybas 6-4, 7-5.

"It was a very emotional match," Russian Dementieva, who struggled in her opening match, told reporters. "I think we had a good fight in the first set and I played a little better than yesterday and this is what I need, just to improve and keep playing better tennis in every round."

She will next face Peer for a place in the semis.


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