Sela, Pe'er crowned champions of Israel

Sela, Peer crowned cham

dudi sela 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
dudi sela 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Dudi Sela and Shahar Pe'er once more proved their superiority on the local scene on Friday, winning their respective Israeli championship titles in Ra'anana. Sela (43 in the world) lifted his first national title since 2006 with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Amir Weintraub (576), while Pe'er (30) encountered few problems on the way to an easy 6-3, 6-0 win over Julia Glushko (320). "The title is returning back home," Sela said. "Amir played really well. He surprised me and was very aggressive." Sela will begin 2010 at the Chennai Open in India next week, before playing in Sydney ahead of the start of the Australian Open on January 18. "I'm leaving for India next week and I feel that my preparations for the new season are going well. I hope to continue and improve," said Sela, who also thanked his family and former coach Yoav Shav in the trophy ceremony. While Sela won the title for only the second time in his career on Friday, Pe'er has already got six national championships to her name, including the last four. "I was looking at the record books and saw that Tova Epstein won eight straight titles, so I'm hoping to break her record in the future," said Pe'er. Epstein won a total of 12 national championships, including eight consecutive titles between 1965 and 1972. Pe'er will begin her season in Auckland, New Zealand next week before playing in Hobart as a final preparation for the year's first Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne. "Julia has improved since we last played each other in the final, but there is still a big gap between us," said Pe'er, who thrashed Glushko 6-0, 6-0 in the 2006 title match. Glushko trailed throughout Friday's final and never really threatened to get the better of Israel's number 1. "I didn't give my best today and that is disappointing," Glushko said. In the men's final, Sela opened an early 3-0 lead, and despite being broken in the seventh game, held serve in the ninth game to clinch the first set. The second set was much tighter. The first nine games went according to serve and Weintraub, who shocked Harel Levy in the semifinals, came within two points of tying up the match in the 10th game. Sela, however, would eventually hold serve and broke Weintraub in the subsequent game with a trademark backhand winner. Sela would complete the victory by holding serve in the next game and ensured he will enter 2010 on the back of a winning run. "I'm pretty disappointed," said the 23-year-old Weintraub, who is hoping to make his breakthrough this season. "I felt I could win in the second set, but Dudi is a great player and he deserved to win. This tournament has given me a lot of confidence ahead of the new year and I hope to climb up the rankings as much as possible."