"I’m very pleased with my level of tennis and I hope to continue playing well in the rest of the tournament.”
By ALLON SINAI
After making history by simply taking part in the Dubai TennisChampionships, Shahar Pe’er made international headlines for her playon court on Wednesday.The 22-year-old Israeli snapped her 10-match losing streak against top10 players with a 6-2, 7-5 upset victory against world number 3 and topseed Caroline Wozniacki, reaching the quarterfinals of the lucrative $2million event a year after she was denied a visa to play in thetournament.“I played really well,” Pe’er said. “I was aggressive throughout thematch and dominated the points. I didn’t serve very well, but Ireturned the ball excellently. I’m very pleased with my level of tennisand I hope to continue playing well in the rest of the tournament.”Pe’er, who hadn’t beaten a top 10 player since June 2008, will faceanother of the very best on Thursday. The Israeli plays world No. 10and eighth seed Li Na, who overcame Marion Bartoli 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 onWednesday.Pe’er had never previously even taken a set off Wozniacki in threematches and won just four games in a third round loss at the AustralianOpen last month.However, the Israeli reached at least one break opportunity on each ofthe 2009 US Open finalist’s 10 service games on Wednesday and broke theDane eight times during the match.“When I played her in Australia, I played well in the first set, and Ihad my chances but I didn’t take them,” Pe’er said. “So I knew the nexttime I have to play her, I really need to take my chances because shenever gives up. She’s always there. I’m really happy I could manageit.”AdvertisementThe 22nd-ranked Pe’er closed it out on her fifth match point in asecond set that contained seven breaks. The third-ranked Wozniacki heldserve only twice in the match.“She played really well,” Wozniacki said. “She kept changing the rhythmall the time. I had a few unforced errors early in the match and nevermanaged to put her under pressure.”Last year, organizers were fined $300,000 by the WTA for not allowingPe’er to play in the event. She was denied a visa by the United ArabEmirates government, citing security reasons.Wednesday’s match was moved from Center Court to Court No. 1 at theAviation Club because it is the most secure, a decision Wozniackiagreed to even though she said the court speed was different.“If there is a threat to her, there is a threat to me as well. So Icompletely agree with the fact that the match was scheduled on CourtNo. 1. I’d rather be safe than sorry,” Wozniacki said.“The change of court did create a bit of a problem, since it was alittle faster than the Center Court. But the conditions were the samefor both of us and I really can’t complain.”Thursday’s quarterfinal will also be played on Court No. 1 for safety reasons.“I am pretty good at blocking it all out,” said Pe’er, who has beenrestricted to the tennis courts and her hotel by the organizers, and isbeing escorted onto court by 16 body guards.“I try to take energy from what’s going on, and I really think I am playing better and better.“I never cried like this when I won before. I’ve cried before when Ilost matches, but this is the first time I cried when I won.”Also Wednesday, defending champion Venus Williams advanced with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Olga Govortsova.Second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova was upset by qualifier Regina Kulikova 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4.The other matches went as seeded: Fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenkadefeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 and seventh-seededAgnieszka Radwanska dispatched Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-0.AP contributed to this report.
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