Pe'er is the pride of Pattaya Open

Israel's rising star defeats Jelena Kostanic for first WTA Tour title.

shahar peer 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
shahar peer 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Pe'er's young career reached new heights on Sunday when the 18-year-old won her first WTA Tour title. Pe'er defeated Croatia's Jelena Kostanic 6-3, 6-1 to lift the crown at the Pattaya Women's Open in Thailand. The win will propel her to a careerhigh ranking between 36-38. Pe'er also racked up $25,650 in winnings. The fourth-seeded Pe'er started slow and trailed 0-3, 0-40, but stormed back with six games in a row. After a lengthy rain delay, Pe'er dropped the first game of the second set before reeling off six more to claim the title in 1 hour 9 minutes. The match was interrupted several times due to rain, totaling over 90 minutes. "It was 3-0 and advantage for her and a smash at the net, but I guess God wanted me to win," Peer told the WTA Web site. "From that game I changed and was more aggressive and a little bit better with my tactic and knew where she was going to hit. "The last two or three times there was rain I won the matches. I was just reading my book while I waited and not thinking about the match until a few minutes before we started. I was just relaxing." Pe'er was at her best this week, not dropping a set in any of her five singles wins. Saturday's victory over Austrian Sybille Bammer marked only her second semifinals appearance - and first win at that stage. Pe'er previously reached the semis at the Australian Open tune-up event in Canberra last month. "It's the best wish I could have," Peer said. "I'm really happy and it's been a great week for me." Ironically, the loss was not only Kostanic's second in a WTA Tour final, but also her second against Israeli competition. She was a runner-up to Anna Smashnova at Helsinki in 2003. When asked if her smash into the net at a crucial time in that fourth game was a turning point, the 69thranked Kostanic said, "Maybe yes, maybe no." "I'll never know. After that I think she picked up her game a little bit. I missed some shots and got a little bit shaky and she just started playing much better," Kostanic said. "There were a lot of close games that I didn't win. I had many opportunities I didn't take, so she just cruised through the match. But I think she played really good. It just didn't come for me today." Pe'er won't have much time to celebrate. She is due in India where she is the second seed for this week's Bangalore Open. Pe'er is scheduled to face Italian Maria Elena Camerin (95) in the first round. She will also team with Mariya Koryttseva of Ukraine in the doubles. Tzipi Obziler (131) is also in Bangalore and slated to meet Korean Su-Wei Hsieh (129) in the first round. Obziler will join up with Indonesian Angelique Widjaja in doubles. Mauresmo beats Pierce in Gaz de France final Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo defeated French compatriot Mary Pierce 6-1, 7-6 (2) Sunday to win the Gaz de France in Paris. The Australian Open champion took her winning streak to 11 matches in collecting her second title of 2006.