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Federation Cup woe for Shahar and co

    Shahar Peer is confident she is returning to her best after injury
    Shahar Peer is confident she is returning to her best after injury

    Shahar Peer offered no excuses following Israel's woeful performance at Federation Cup European Group qualifiers in Eilat.

    Israel failed to take advantage of playing on home soil and missed out on a place in the World Group playoffs after finishing ninth in the 15-team tournament.

    A victory over Holland counted for little after defeats by Britain and Portugal. Israel were comprehensively beaten by Britain, failing to win a single set in a 3-0 defeat. Shahar Peer (world ranking 37) was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Elena Baltacha (57), while Julia Glushko (211) went down 6-2, 6-1 against Anne Keothavong (88). Keren Mor and Glushko needed to win the doubles to keep Israel in the tie, but they were swept aside 6-1, 6-2 by Laura Robson and Heather Watson.

    The hosts had opened poorly a day earlier, going down 2-1 to Portugal. Glushko made a positive start by beating Maria Koehler in the opening rubber, but then Peer was outplayed by Michelle Larcher de Brito, who is ranked 99 places below her at 136. Peer and Glushko lost the doubles to the Portuguese duo, going down 6-4 in the deciding set.

    Peer said: "We just weren't good enough and didn't deserve to progress. We will try our best again next time.

    "I think my own tennis is improving considering I've just recovered from injury."

    Peer, who last year complained about the conduct of the critical Eilat spectators, could have had no qualms this year. A crowd of over 2,000 stayed behind after the disappointing whitewash against Britain and gave the Israeli team a standing ovation.

    Off court, much of the talk in the Red Sea resort was about Peer's budding romance with Olympic men's windsurfing bronze medallist Shahar Zubari.

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