Shahar’s summer slump takes another agonizing twist

4 straight first-round exits – including in two Grand Slams – all to players ranked outside the world’s top 70, is something which simply cannot be ignored.

June 22, 2011 08:39
2 minute read.
Shahar Peer

SHAHAR PEER 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Every first-round loss is desperately disappointing, but Shahar Pe’er’s early Wimbledon exit on Monday was even worse.

I have seen Pe’er following tough defeats before, but never have I seen her so stunned and shattered.

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No player likes to talk after a crushing blow, but it was not that Pe’er didn’t want to speak after Monday’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Ksenia Pervak, it was as if she almost couldn’t; she was virtually numb.

Mumbling semi-coherent sentences, Pe’er looked to be in a completely different world.

It is impossible to know what was going through her head, but perhaps it was the stark reality finally hitting home that so dazed the Israeli.

Four straight first-round exits – including in two Grand Slams – all to players ranked outside the world’s top 70, is something which simply cannot be ignored.

If Pe’er had any illusions that her recent defeats were no more than incidental, on Monday she finally fully comprehended otherwise.

Pe’er has slowly lost her way since splitting with coach Pablo Giacopelli last July, but after his replacement Craig Kardon lasted just seven months, she believes that Harold Solomon, who first guided her on an interim basis in March, is the right man to take her forward in a full time role, despite the recent results.

“I think I wasn’t playing that well at the beginning of the year, but now I feel I’m playing better, trying to be more aggressive, and I just need to take my chances,” Pe’er said on Monday in one of the few sentences she was able to utter.

“I think Solomon is a very good coach.

Obviously I don’t have my best record with him, but I hope I play better in the summer and reach higher rounds.”

A coaching change is seemingly out of the question, but with just a single win or less in 10 of 14 tournaments in 2011, clearly something must be done.

Maybe the fact that the severity of her situation has now finally sunk in, Pe’er will be able to find the inner strength needed to make a winning response.

Something seemed to crack inside of Shahar with Monday’s loss, with sadness rather than frustration emerging as the dominant emotion.

But for a player first and foremost renowned for her character and determination, there is good reason to hope that from this heartache she can rise to new heights.

She certainly believes so.

“I need to try and get better every day. Work hard and try and play better every match,” Pe’er said. “Every athlete has ups and down and I hope to start winning matches soon.

“I haven’t won too many matches lately, but I think I am a good enough player to get into the top 10.”

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