Tennis: Pe’er aiming to repeat strong Dubai showing

The 23-year-old Israeli, who remained at No. 11 in the world rankings on Monday, will draw confidence from reaching the semifinals in Dubai last year.

311_Shahar Peer killer return (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Shahar Peer killer return
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Shahar Pe’er will begin her participation in the Dubai Championships on Tuesday morning when she faces Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain in the first round.
The 23-year-old Israeli, who remained at No. 11 in the world rankings on Monday, has recorded mediocre results so far this season, but will draw confidence from reaching the semifinals in Dubai last year and will be optimistic of getting the better of the tricky Martinez Sanchez (28).
Two years ago, Pe’er missed out on the tournament in Dubai after being denied a visa to the Emirates. However, after being restricted to the outside courts in last year’s event, it seems that the organizers have finally come to terms with the Israeli’s presence, placing her on Court 1 for Tuesday’s match.
Pe’er and Monica Niculescu advanced to the second round of the doubles tournament on Monday, defeating Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 6-1, 6-4.
Julia Glushko came tantalizingly close to qualifying for her first WTA main draw on Monday, losing 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6- 3 to Bianca Botto in the third round of the qualifiers in Bogota, Colombia.
Nevertheless, Glushko, who climbed two places to No.
203 in the world on Monday, is expected to break into the WTA’s top-200 for the first time in her career next week.
Dudi Sela faced Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in the first round of the RMK Championships in Memphis early Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Caroline Wozniacki can reclaim the No. 1 ranking from Kim Clijsters by reaching the semifinals at the Dubai Championships.
Clijsters, who won the Australian Open last month, moved past Wozniacki in the rankings released Monday.
But she is skipping this week’s tournament, giving the 20-year-old Dane a chance to bridge the 180-point gap and overtake her again.
Wozniacki, however, said Monday she never pays attention to the rankings and felt no difference whether she is No. 1 or No. 2.
“I have no idea. I don’t look at rankings,” Wozniacki said.
“I do my best. If I’m No. 1, that’s great. If I’m No. 2, it’s still great.”
Wozniacki took over the top spot in October from Serena Williams, who has been out of action since injuring her foot and has seen her ranking fall to No. 12. But the Dane has taken flack because has never won a Grand Slam title.
At the Australian Open, she lost to Li Na in the semifinals.
Ahead of her opening match Wednesday, Wozniacki appeared bored with questions about the top ranking and the quality of the Dubai field, which doesn’t include Clijsters nor the Williams sisters, who are both out injured.
The rest of the top eight players in the world are at the tournament, however.
“Maybe at least I won’t get this question over and over again, ‘How does it feel to be No. 1 without winning a Grand Slam?’” she said. “At least I get over that. I don’t feel differently. The sun is shining. I’m still playing the same away. I’m still here to compete in the tournament and trying to win it.”