Ground-breaking Peer kept in check in Morocco

By Simon Griver, April 30, 2009
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Shahar Peer (53) became the first Israeli to play in Morocco when she beat Aravane Rezai (95) in the first round of the SAR tournament in Fes.

Seeded eight, Peer lost her second round clash against Czech Lucie Hradecka (91).

Tournament organisers rejected Peer’s request not to play on Remembrance Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers on the grounds that her first round match had already been put back a day to accommodate her late arrival from Estonia.

After the furore earlier this year when Peer was refused entry to Dubai, her Moroccan hosts have been eager to make her feel welcome. Tournament director Fuad Alami defended Peer’s presence to Arab journalists when he said: “This is a sporting event with no connection to politics. We welcome any player who wants to come to our country.”

Earlier this week, Israel was relegated from the Federation Cup World Group to the Europe/Africa Zone after losing 3-2 against Estonia in Tallinn. Peer said: “It was especially annoying to lose the way we did. It was so close the tie could have gone either way.”

Tied at 2-2 after the singles, Peer and Tzipi Obziler lost the decisive doubles with the rubber going to the third set which the Estonians eventually won 8-6.

Boosted by her performance, Obziler, who had been expected to retire, announced she will carry on playing.

Dudi Sela has risen to a record high career ranking of 56 despite losing in the first round in Barcelona last week. He will be the top seed in the Israel Open Challenger at Ramat Hasharon starting on Monday. Prize money for the event has doubled to $100,000.

    Last updated: 12:24pm, April 30 2009