Shahar Peer is set for Monday’s Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships — a tournament from which she was famously excluded last year.
There was much furore when the UAE refused to grant Peer a visa because she is Israeli. Worldwide protests and threats by the WTA to cancel the tournament have proved successful, and Peer travels to the Gulf riding high having risen from 68 in the world rankings last August to 22 after reaching the third round of last month’s Australian Open.
Peer, 22, hopes that a good performance in Dubai will help her to surpass her career high ranking of 15 in January 2007. She said: “It’s a known phenomenon that young tennis players getting used to celebrity status and the accompanying pressures have a slump in form. I don’t think I’ve changed anything in my game but I think I’ve become a more mature person who is better able to cope with the pressure.”
Going into the tournament, Peer will have to overcome the fact that it is 11 months since she has beaten a top 20 player. Last week, she won three out of four games as Israel finished ninth in the Federation Cup Europe/Africa Group, failing to earn promotion back to the World Group.
Peer said: “I feel I’m going to have a good year and the aim is to do well in the big tournaments like Dubai.”