In the wake of winning her first tournament in four years and returning to the top 100, Shahar Peer has confessed that she has considered retirement in recent months.
The 26-year-old Israeli won the Suzhou Open in China last weekend beating local favourite Saisai Zheng 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in the final. This was only the sixth title win of her career and her first in four years, albeit a relatively minor tournament. The win saw her re-enter the top 100 rising from 113 to 83 in the WTA rankings.
Having been ranked 11 two years ago, and seen as one of the rising stars of world tennis, Peer suffered an inexplicable slump in form which saw her fall to 179 in the rankings last month. Returning from China to Israel, she spoke of how difficult it has been to pull through the bad times.
She said: "In the past six months there were at least five or six occasions when I said to myself, that's it the tennis playing period of my life is over. I've had a fantastic career and achieved amazing things but enough, it's over. There are more important things in life. I'm not ashamed to say this. People talk this way not only in sport but regular life too." But Peer added that she was unable to walk away from tennis.
"Ultimately there is something inside me that really loves tennis. I love to be on court, I love to win and losing simply wipes me out."
This was her second successive final, having reached the final of the Baku Cup in Azerbaijan where she lost in straight sets to Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.
"Even after the defeat in Baku, I felt that’s it, I’m not there. I can’t carry on playing tennis any more. I’m just not strong enough for it and I'm not succeeding," she said.
Wimbledon was a low point for Peer. Not only did she not automatically qualify for the grand slam for the first time in her career, she also lost in the final qualifying round.
“But my agent told me at Wimbledon by the end of the year you’ll be back in the top 100. Of course nobody dreamed it would happen so quickly. It’s crazy to climb so quickly from 179 to nearly 80."
Peer’s recovery has not come in time to see her enter the main draw of the US Open and next week and she will play in the qualifiers at Flushing Meadow. She said: "My dream is to go as far as possible and repeat my achievements and of course to win some grand slams. But meanwhile that’s a long way away."