Perhaps the most remarkable part about Shahar Pe’er’s success in 2010 is that
this was no more than a foretaste of things to come.
Despite being just
23-years-old, there were those who doubted if Pe’er will ever truly be a top
player after she dropped to number 68 in the world rankings in August
However, Pe’er proved all her skeptics wrong in the past 12 months,
an accomplishment acknowledged by you, the readers, who named her as the
Jerusalem Post’s Israeli Sports Personality of the Year for 2010.
the first two-time winner in the award’s history, having taken first place in
2007 as well, ends the year at a career-high No. 13 in the world, claiming five
victories against top-10 opponents, including a win against current No. 1
She reached one final and six semifinals, including
in the premier events in Dubai, Madrid and Beijing, and for the first time since
2007, made the last 16 in two Grand Slam tournaments, advancing to the fourth
round at Roland Garros and the US Open, while also amassing a career-best
$1,122,052 over the year.
“First of all I’d like to thank all the readers
who voted for me,” Pe’er told the Post
. “It is really nice to hear that people
follow and appreciate my achievements. This award gives me great pride and a lot
of motivation to continue to work hard and succeed.”
Pe’er garnered over
45 percent of the total vote, beating out last year’s winner, Sacramento Kings
forward Omri Casspi, by over 13%, with Olympic swimmer Gal Nevo finishing in a
distant third with almost 9% of the vote.
Pe’er is one of four
end-of-year sports awards announced by the Post this week.
Aviv’s soccer side was named as Team of the Year, while high-jumper Dima Kroyter
was selected as our Young Sports Personality of the Year, and tennis giant
Rafael Nadal was chosen as the Foreign Sports Personality of the
But it was Pe’er who was the undoubted star of local sports in the
last 12 months.
“This was the best year of my career,” Pe’er said. “I
beat many excellent players and was relatively consistent throughout the
Overall, I’m very pleased, but continue to aspire for more and hope
that 2011 will be even better.”
Pe’er’s game was significantly improved
in 2010, resulting in a career-best record of 47 wins and 21 losses. She also
finally found the consistency that eludes so many players on the WTA Tour, only
losing twice against opponents ranked outside the top-50 and being knocked out
in the first round of only two tournaments this year.
“In 2009 I couldn’t
build any long and positive momentum,” Pe’er noted. “The Dubai episode when I
was barred from competing in the tournament cut short a good period and then I
was injured for around a month.
“Fortunately, things began to fall into
place in the end of the year and I got back to form.”
Pe’er believes she
made dramatic progress in her game over 2010 and reveals that she never doubted
“When you love what you are doing self-doubt is irrelevant,”
said Pe’er, who participated in the prestigious season-ending WTA Championships
in Doha as an alternate to end 2010. “I knew I was a good player and that if I
continue to work hard and smile on court, the results would come. I’m pleased I
“I work very hard to improve my tennis all the time,” she
added. “I improved almost all the aspects of my game in the last year. My serve,
volley and forehand are all vastly improved and I’ve become a more aggressive
player. Fortunately, I still have plenty to improve and to
Pe’er entered the season with a 10- match losing streak
against players ranked in the world’s top-10, having not beaten one since she
got the better of Dinara Safina in June 2008.
That barren spell was
brought to an end with a win over Wozniacki in Dubai, and Pe’er now finds
herself within touching distance of becoming a top-10 player herself.
improved as a player, I matured and I gained experience,” said Pe’er, when asked
to explain her return to winning ways against top-10 players.
“One of the
most important things in tennis is to get to know the tour and the players, and
learn how to play against the very best.”
The split with coach Pablo
Giacopelli in July could have derailed Pe’er’s year, but she showed how much she
had matured by quickly rebounding.
“The most important thing I learned
from this was that I depend on myself,” Pe’er said. “It’s true that a coach is
important, but I’m the one on court and I’m the one who wins or loses matches.
Despite Pablo leaving in the middle of the year I succeeded in ending the season
well and that gave me a lot of confidence.”
For years now, Pe’er has been
the target of anti-Israeli protests around the world, while also missing out on
the Dubai tournament in 2009, being denied a visa apparently because of
anti-Israel sentiments in the Gulf state following Operation Cast
However, after last year’s subsequent uproar, Pe’er was allowed to
compete in the prestigious event this past February, and despite the occasional
difficulties, she is proud to represent Israel.
“It isn’t nice to be the
target of anti-Israeli protests and I don’t think this should occur,” Pe’er
“But I succeeded in putting everything else aside and focusing on
my tennis. It brings me great pride to represent Israel abroad.
all of these protests just make me stronger and bring out the best in
Pe’er only finally completed her 2010 schedule at the end of
October, but after a couple of weeks of holiday she was already beginning a
five-week training program with coach Craig Kardon to be ready for the start of
the new season in Brisbane, Australia next week.
The future is once more
looking extremely bright for Pe’er and she is expecting bigger and better things
“My main goal is to be consistent throughout the season,” she
“Beyond that, I would like to do better in the Grand Slam events
and of course also win some other tournaments.
“If I maintain a high
level of play I’m sure the results and rankings will come as well.”