(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Three years after her last appearance in the Dubai Tennis Championships, Shahar Pe’er returned to the Persian Gulf emirate on Friday, only to lose in the first round of qualifying.
The 27-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 114 in the world, dropped to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 defeat to Australian Jarmila Gajdosova (54), suffering a first-round exit for the third time in four tournaments in 2015.
Pe’er fell to a 2-4 record this year, with her two wins coming against players ranked 190 or lower in the first two rounds of the Australian Open qualifiers.
Pe’er was playing in Dubai for the first time since 2012 when she reached the second round. The tournament organizers were widely criticized and fined $300,000 after failing to guarantee Pe’er a visa to the UAE to play in the event in 2009. The Israeli went on to reach the semifinals in her first appearance in the tournament the following year.
Just like in her previous visits to Dubai, Pe’er was once more placed on an outside court on which no other matches took place on Friday.
Meanwhile, Australian Open champion Serene Williams and Canada’s Genie Bouchard withdrew from the lucrative WTA event in Dubai on Saturday.
Williams recently won her sixth Australian Open title but the world number one sat out the second day of last week’s Fed Cup tie for the United States because of a persistent, nagging cough.
No reason was given for Bouchard’s withdrawl, after she was awarded a wild card to the event.
Venus Williams won the title last year and will be defending her crown.
Elsewhere, Tomas Berdych moved to within a victory of retaining his ABN Amro World Tennis title in Rotterdam on Saturday with a crushing 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The Czech third seed was totally dominant, offering up only one point on his serve throughout the 58-minute contest.
“My game was good and the game plan was even better,” said Berdych, who will play fourth seed Stanislas Wawrinka in the final, said on the ATP’s website.
“It was a very good game. I need to keep going as there is still one more match to go.
I want to go all the way.”
Simon had beaten top seed Andy Murray on Friday, but could not cope with the Berdych onslaught.
Reuters contributed to this report