Our woman in Dubai: Pe’er a smash hit

Unlike the 50 other players in the tournament, Pe’er has been placed under strict restrictions.

Amid the furor swirling through Dubai over the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and the local authorities’ growing declared conviction that the Mossad was responsible, Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe’er has cut a lonely figure at this week’s Dubai Championships. Still, it certainly hasn’t affected her game.
The 22-year-old has battled into the Friday semifinals of a tournament from which she was barred last year, even though she has been almost totally isolated throughout her stay in the Emirates, The Jerusalem Post was told Thursday.
Unlike the 50 other players in the tournament, who have been free to move around as they like, Pe’er has been placed under strict restrictions, only leaving her hotel to travel to and from the tennis arenas.
Citing “security measures,” the event organizers have ensured that Pe’er has had no contact with any of the other competitors off the court, leaving her unable, for instance, to attend the players’ party on Tuesday evening.
Pe’er has been provided with a private gym to work out in and been flanked by teams of security guards on her way to and from the courts.
Members of Pe’er’s team have stressed that these precautions do not appear to be a function of the tension surrounding the assassination affair, noting that Israeli doubles player Andy Ram had been placed under the same constraints when he played in the men’s doubles tournament in Dubai last year; Pe’er had been denied a visa and is playing this year for the first time.
Pe’er is no stranger to controversy, having faced various anti-Israel protesters while playing in events around the world.
As of Thursday, however, there were no reports of such protests in thistournament, and those close to her have insisted that Pe’er is enjoyingherself in Dubai.
“Shahar has been saying everyone is very nice to her – the guards, thetournament people. She feels very welcome and is having fun,” one Pe’erteam member said. “She is taking it how she should. The most importantthing is that she is playing very well and she feels good on thecourt.”