Sahar Pe'er midair 311.
(photo credit: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP)
It would be no overstatement to say that Shahar Pe’er will enter next week’s French Open in the best form of her career.
Everything seems to have fallen into place for the 23-year-old Israeli, who climbed to number 19 in the world earlier this week, her best ranking position since May 2008.
Pe’er has reached at least the semifinals in half of the 10 tournaments she has played so far this year, including the lucrative events in Dubai in February and in Madrid just last week.
The quality of the results she has achieved so far this year is perhaps best represented by the fact that she is currently ranked No. 7 in the race to the end-of-season WTA championships, which is based on ranking points collected during the calendar year.
Pe’er’s results against top 10 players in 2010 are further proof of how well she is playing at the moment.
Israel’s No. 1 won just one of 13 meetings against players ranked in the top 10 in 2008 and 2009, but has been getting the better of the world’s best on a regular basis this year.
Pe’er has an even 5-5 record against the world’s top 10 in 2010, beating the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post
this week, Pe’er pointed to consistency as one of the main keys to her success over the last six months.
“I’m certainly playing good tennis at the moment and most importantly I’m consistent,” she said. “I also played well last year, but not over a long period and I couldn’t build momentum. I’m much more aggressive now and I’m also more mature.”
Pe’er credits coach Pablo Giacopelli, with whom she began working ahead of the 2009 season, with much of her achievements.
“We have an excellent connection,” Pe’er said. “We are improving my tennis all the time and he deserves a lot of credit. We enjoy being on court together. We work very hard and try and improve all the time.”
Despite her vast progress, Pe’er still feels she has plenty of room for improvement.
“My serve can be more dominant, my forehand could be more solid and my volley and aggressiveness also all need improving,” she said. “I’m getting better all the time, but there still a lot more to improve.”
For all her victories against top 10 opponents this year, Pe’er has yet to make her breakthrough against the very best. Pe’er has lost all five of her matches this year against Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, with her overall record against the Williams sisters and the Belgian stars falling to 0-13.
“I’ve always believed I can beat any player,” she stated. “Against the top four I need to be able to play a full match without any drop in my intensity. That day will come.”
What makes Pe’er’s accomplishments even more extraordinary is the fact
that she has had to also overcome anti-Israeli protests, most notably
in New Zealand and Australia.
“It was very annoying,” Pe’er said of the experience of playing while
protesters chant anti-Israeli abuse. “I’m happy I managed to distance
myself from the surroundings and play well. I hope these things won’t
Pe’er is currently in Paris preparing for the start of Roland Garros on
Sunday and despite her excellent play she’s not looking too far ahead.
“I’m focusing on my first round match,” she said.
“In a tournament like this there are so many unpredictable elements that it is very difficult to forecast what might happen.”