Shahar Peer returned to form with her first victory in four tournaments but she did it the hard way against England’s Katie O’Brien.
The 24th seed found herself 1-3 down in the first set and 0-5 down in the second, but managed to battle back in both, much to the disappointment of the home crowd. Reflecting on her win, Peer admitted her concentration had dropped on occasions and she was not satisfied with her play.
“I won five games in a row in the first set and seven in the second but I didn’t play well. I was sleeping a bit in the second, she was dictating play and I wasn’t playing my game. Somehow I suddenly began to play and it proved to be just enough to win the second set. I’m just really happy to have won. I was very concentrated at 0-5 down in the second set, and with each game that I won, I grew in confidence and she lost a little.
“The crowd wasn’t a problem, they were very polite. We played on a small court and that was fine. I’m hoping to build on this win as Wimbledon is very special but I haven’t set myself any goals.”
Peer added: “I haven’t played very well in the past two months so it’s good for my confidence. Grass isn’t my favourite surface but I like to play here and after my win in the doubles am getting more confident on it.”
She has recently changed coach with Slovakian Martin Romek in charge until after the tournament.
“A coach cannot change you in two weeks but I’m happy with where I am now,” Peer said. “Every athlete faces tough moments in their career but I’m feeling really good again. I’m the kind of player that fights for every ball. You cannot train in being a fighter, it’s just who I am. Since I was a little girl I wanted to win, not only in tennis. I wanted to be the best.”
O’Brien was impressed by Peer’s comeback, commenting: “She turned the game around and made an awful lot of balls.” Victory set up a second round meeting against Emilie Loit of France.
Peer also won in the first round in the women’s doubles. Playing alongside Belarussian Victoria Azarenka, the sixth seeds beat Czech pair Lucie Hradecka and Renata Voracova
“Every win is important,” said Peer. “We were surprised to play doubles on the first day but we played well at the right moments. I’m enjoying playing with Victoria. The first round is always tough, especially on grass as we only play on it twice a year.”
Tzipi Obziler and France’s Stephanie Cohen-Aloro were among the first round women’s singles casualties.