Shahar Pe’er reclaimed the Israel national title at a brisk and breezy Ramat Hasharon on Thursday afternoon, beating Julia Glushko 6-3, 5-7, 6- 1 to avenge last year’s loss and gain much-needed confidence ahead of the start of the new season.

The wind caused both players to commit far more errors than they would have liked, but it was Pe’er, ranked No. 74 in the world, who dealt better with the conditions in the first set, clinching it with four straight games.

Glushko (176) opened a 3-1 lead in the second set with a love break, but she would drop her serve twice in a row before breaking Pe’er once more (4-4). Last year’s champion was gifted the decisive break point by the chair umpire, who to Shahar’s dismay decided the ball had hit her foot just before it would have struck the court and been called out.

Glushko went on to take the second set after a short rain break, but Pe’er channeled her frustration into inspiration in the third set, racing to a 5-0 lead on the way to her sixth national title in seven years and eighth in total.

“Even had I lost today I would have been pleased because of the process I’m undergoing,” said a delighted Pe’er, who will begin the new season in a week-and-a-half at the Shenzhen Open in China. “I’m playing much better now and I know what I’m doing on court.”

Much of the credit for that goes to coach Pablo Giacopelli, who renewed his partnership with Pe’er at the end of October.

Giacopelli and Pe’er first teamed-up in November 2008, splitting up in July 2010 at a time when the Israel No. 1 was playing some of the best tennis of her life.

She went on to drop from No. 11 in the world to No. 74, but has now finally regained her passion for the game.

“Time will tell how things go, but the most important thing is that the love for the game is back,” she said. “I’m optimistic because I think I’m heading in the right direction. It won’t be easy to come back from my current position, but I love what I’m doing and the results will arrive when they need to arrive.”

Giacopelli preached for patience. “I hope nobody expects miracles because this is going to be a long journey,” he insisted. “When I handed her back over I gave the Empire State Building and now I’ve got a hole in the floor. We are rebuilding and this takes time. I think today’s victory in such conditions, and with all that happened in the same tournament last year, is going to do a lot for her confidence.”

Giacopelli would like Pe’er to return to the basics. “The way they were making her play in the last two years was ludicrous,” he claimed. “She was trying to hit winners from everywhere on the court and play some very low percentage tennis. Now we are focusing more on using her abilities and her gifts. Taking her chances, but taking her chances at the right time and not the whole time.”

Dudi Sela (109) will face Amir Weintraub (194) in the men’s final on Saturday.

Sela beat Harel Srugo 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday, while Weintraub defeated Tal Goldengoren 6-3, 6-2.

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