Venus & Shahar To Meet in SFs
Published February 18, 2010 12:00
DUBAI, UAE - Israel's Shahar Peer continued her resonating run in Dubai on Thursday, making it through her quarterfinal match, and on Friday she takes on the player who was most vocal about her being barred from competing at the $2-million event a year ago: seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams.
Peer, unseeded, got past No.8 seed Li Na in her third round match on Thursday when the Chinese had to retire due to a back injury trailing 75 30. Li held set point at 5-4 in the first set before losing six straight games to Peer, then, with the Israeli serving in the fourth game of the second set, was forced to stop.
"At the end of the first set I hit a high backhand and I heard a crack, and I thought, 'Oh my God,'" Li said. "I called a trainer and she checked it. I played a few more games but it got worse, so I had to pull out. It felt like needles. Whenever I bent, it felt tight. It wasn't so safe." Highlights: Peer vs. Li
"It has been a while since I've been in the semifinals of a big tournament. I don't remember when the last time was. Everything is coming together," Peer said. "I hope she'll get better, though. A win is a win, but you never like to win when the other player is hurt. I saw something was wrong before she retired."
Last year, Peer was denied entry into the UAE just ahead of this tournament, causing a firestorm of controversy about international relations between Israel and the Middle East - more specifically whether or not it should apply to the world of sports. So, Peer's phenomenal run this week in Dubai, where she wasn't even allowed to compete last year, is making headlines worldwide.
Peer hasn't been focusing on much other than her matches, though: "The only place I saw myself was on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour website... I'm not aware of all the attention... but what I get, if it's nice, I really appreciate it."
Awaiting Peer in the semifinals is Williams, the No.3 seed and defending champion here. Williams had lost twice late last year to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but snapped that losing streak with a solid win in the night session, 63 64. Williams was down 3-1 first set before regrouping.
"Shahar and I respect each other," Williams said of Peer. "This is how things in life turn out. I'm looking forward to both of us playing in our top level."
Doing battle in the other semifinal will be close friends Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska, who won very contrasting quarterfinals. Azarenka, the No.4 seed, routed No.12 seed Vera Zvonareva, 61 63; Radwanska, the No.7 seed, battled two hours and 17 minutes to end the run of qualifier Regina Kulikova, 36 64 63. Highlights: A.Radwanska vs. Kulikova