Shahar Pe'er 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite having to forego her final two tournaments of the year due to injury and
dropping to her lowest WTA ranking in two years, Shahar Pe’er looked and sounded
happier than ever earlier this week.
Happenings off-court may largely be
responsible for her upbeat mood, but Pe’er, who is suffering from a stress
fracture in her lower back and fell eight places to No. 35 in the world on
Monday, is also clearly optimistic regarding her playing career.
victories in 2011 was her lowest total since turning professional in 2004, with
the 24-year-old Israeli failing to win more than a single match in 15 of 21
tournaments this year.
But I can’t remember Pe’er ever appearing as
cheerful as she did when we spoke, and she is confident that it won’t be long
before she is also smiling on court once more.
“I had a complex year. I
think it was a rebuilding year,” said Pe’er, who just six months ago was a
single win away from becoming the first Israeli to break into the
“I began the year well and recorded some good results, but in
February I felt my game was in decline and decided that I needed to make a
change to remain at the highest level.
“The level of tennis on tour is
always improving. Girls are faster and stronger and are targeting perfection so
I had to make changes to keep up with them.
“My game has improved
Things are still not exactly as I’d like them to be, but I
know and believe that once the changes sink in we will slowly see an improvement
in the results,” added Pe’er, whose disappointing season came to a premature
ending last week after she was diagnosed with the back injury.
loss to Julie Goerges in the third round in Charleston, which denied her a place
in the top- 10, Pe’er failed to make it past the second round in 10 of 13
tournaments, losing in the opening round in seven of them.
only reached the quarterfinals of three tournaments all year, her trip to the
final in Washington at the end of July marking her best showing.
came in stark contrast to her performance in 2010, when she also only advanced
to a single final, but made six semifinals, including at the premier events in
Dubai, Madrid and Beijing.
In 2010, Pe’er went a career-best 47-21,
recording five victories over top-10 opponents (compared to just one in 2011)
and only losing twice to players ranked outside the world’s top-50 (as opposed
to eight this year).
Pe’er’s results in the majors pretty much sum up her
2011 season. Her third-round effort at the Australian Open in January and her
secondround loss at the US Open would usually be low-points of a season, but not
for a year in which she fell in the first rounds of Roland Garros and Wimbledon
after going over two years without losing in an opening round of a Grand Slam
Pe’er’s most disappointing results have come since she began
working with coach Harold Solomon in March, but she is delighted with the
progress being made under his guidance.
“I really enjoy working with
We have a really good connection,” said Pe’er, who earned this year
less than half ($475,249) she did in 2010 ($1,122,052).
through a process. We have made changes to my game and it takes time for things
to come together and for the body to translate what the mind knows. I see an
improvement in training and there have also been some flashes in matches, like
in Washington when my serve was much better and I hit four or five aces in every
“I’m not going to become a player who hits 10 aces a match, but
things are coming together and are starting to look better.
to be more aggressive while maintaining consistency. I need to make sure I’m not
too offensive or too defensive. I need to find the right balance. I want to
remain a player who makes as few mistakes as possible, but also takes initiative
and forces other players to commit mistakes.”
In the past, the
ever-intense Pe’er might have wallowed in her poor results and mediocre
Not any more.
Pe’er will try to forget about the past year
as soon as she can, but at least it has seemed to result in a new positive
outlook on life, and that could prove to be more valuable than any
“I’m optimistic,” she said. “I see the process which I’m going
through and the slow improvement. I can see that it is going somewhere and that
the future is bright and that gives me a lot of
motivation.”email@example.com Follow Allon Sinai on Twitter: @AllonSinai