Sinai Says: Is Shahar getting back to her best?

This past weekend could prove to be a defining moment in the tennis player's career.

Allon sinai 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Allon sinai 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Despite Israel's 3-2 loss to Ukraine in the Fed Cup World Group II first round on Sunday, this past weekend could, and hopefully will, prove to be a defining moment in Shahar Pe'er's career. After falling from number 17 in the world to her current ranking of 48 over the last 12 months, and suffering numerous defeats to inferior players, the 21-year-old displayed in Kharkov, Ukraine the clearest evidence so far that she is finally set for a long-awaited return to form. At the weekend Pe'er defeated two excellent players in the Bondarenko sisters, Alona (31 in the world) and Kateryna (50), and did so on hostile territory and on a less than ideal indoor surface. However, even more important was the fashion in which Israel's No. 1 got the better of the Ukrainians. As always, Pe'er's fighting qualities played a crucial role, but far more encouraging was the fact that she served far better than last year and was offensive minded, attempting to dictate the play rather than allow her opponents to seize the initiative. Pe'er looked confident on court once more, just like two years ago, and with two more hard fought victories to her name will be returning to the WTA tour brimming with self-belief. "I hope that this tie and these victories help me in my upcoming tournaments," Pe'er said on Sunday. "I'm upset that the team lost, but personally I played well. I played positive tennis and I managed to win both my singles matches." It would be more than appropriate if Pe'er's career should get back on track following a Fed Cup tie, as it was in this competition that her confidence suffered a crushing blow from which only now she may be finally recovering. Last April, Pe'er lost both her singles matches in the World Group playoff tie against the Czech Republic in Ramat Hasharon to players ranked 95 and 100 in the world. With Obziler winning twice in the tie, Pe'er knew that it was her defeats which cost Israel a place among the top eight nations in the World Group, and the disappointment of letting down her country took its toll. Pe'er lost 14 of her 25 matches in 2008 following the frustrating losses against the Czechs, nine of them to inferiorly ranked players. However, after this weekend's impressive performance Pe'er can finally leave behind last year's heartbreaking defeats and try to translate her Fed Cup form to the WTA tour. Pe'er has shown many times in the past that she has the mental strength needed to resurrect her career. Now that she has proven to herself and to everyone else that she's on her way back to her best form, the future is once more looking bright.