Shahar Peer suffered a remarkable loss of form as Israel’s women lost 3-2 against the Czech Republic at Ramat Hasharon.
Israel’s number one lost both her singles matches and despite a heroic effort from 35-year-old Tzipi Obziler, who won both her matches, they were relegated from the World Group to Tier II, comprising the nations ranked 9-16.
Israel began as firm favourites after Czech ace Nicole Vaidisova (16) pulled out of the tie. But despite vocal encouragement from the 3,000-strong crowd, Peer defied the form book by losing to Petra Kvitova (95). Veteran Obziler (94) surprised Lucie Safarova (39) in three sets. The pattern repeated itself the following day with Peer losing to Iveta Benesova before Obziler levelled the tie at 2-2 with a straight sets victory over Kvitova.
Doubles specialists Benesova and Kveta Peschke, ranked five in the world, were always going to be too strong for Peer and Obziler and so it proved as they swept aside the Israeli duo 6-3, 6-4. The result represented a personal disaster for Peer (18), who turned 21 yesterday.
Since hiring former Spanish player Conchita Martinez, she has failed to climb in the world rankings. Peer burst into tears after each defeat and was surly towards journalists at the post match press conference. “I often cry after defeats,” she said. “I hate to lose.”
Peer walked out of the press conference, saying: “I don’t have to sit here and undergo an interrogation. Whatever I say you’ll write negative things.”