Pe'er wins her fourth Israeli title

Pe'er defeated Tzipi Obziler for the first time in her career in the final of the Israeli tennis championships in Ra'anana.

peer hits 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
peer hits 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er defeated Tzipi Obziler for the first time in her career in the final of the Israeli tennis championships in Ra'anana on Friday in what may well turn out to be their last meeting in a competitive tournament. The 20-year-old Israeli beat her 34-year-old friend 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. Also Friday, Harel Levy claimed his fourth Israeli title, beating Dekel Valtzer 6-0, 6-1. After a poor first set Pe'er (17 in the world) lifted her play and showed that she's ready for the 2008 season. "I was a little rusty at the start of the match because I hadn't played competitively for a few months," said Pe'er, who has now won four Israeli titles (2001, 2003, 2006, 2007). "I'm feeling very good physically and I'm very confident. I had a poor ending to last season, but I'm feeling much better now and I hope this will show in my results in the next couple of months." Despite losing to Pe'er for the first time in three career meetings, Obziler (80) was in a positive mood after the final. "Pe'er lifted her play in the second set and I dropped mine," the three time champion (2000, 2004, 2005) said. "I must look at the full half of the glass. I had an excellent 2007 and I've had a superb preparation for 2008. My first goal for the coming season is to maintain my current ranking. "As the year progresses I would like to improve my ranking so that I qualify for the Olympics. Of course, 2008 will also be a big year for the Fed Cup team." In February Israel plays Russia in its first ever World Group tie. Obziler raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set, but Pe'er broke back in the seventh game of the match to come within one game (4-3). The veteran, however, broke once again in the subsequent game and held her serve to win the first set. Another Obziler break in the first game of the second set seemed to give her a commanding lead. Pe'er, however, would claim 12 of the next 13 games, including one stretch in which she won 10 straight points, and clinched the match with ease. "In our previous meetings Pe'er was much younger and she's improved a lot since. She's not a top 20 player for nothing," Obziler commented at the end of the match. "In the first set I made every mistake possible. However, I continued to be aggressive and eventually won the match," Pe'er said. In the men's final, Levy (161) was unstoppable, beating Valtzer (408) for the loss of just one game. "The final was easy because Valtzer had a bad day," Levy said. "I ended 2007 well and I hope that I avoid injury in 2008 and maintain this form." Also Friday, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich claimed the doubles title, defeating Weintraub and Costa Blanek 6-2, 6-0.