Weintraub, Pe’er take national championships

Dudi Sela stunned in men's title upset by player currently ranked 281 in the world.

Weintraub Peer 311 (photo credit: Gil Krodo)
Weintraub Peer 311
(photo credit: Gil Krodo)
Israeli tennis was given plenty of reasons for optimism in Ra’anana on Friday.
Shahar Pe’er and Dudi Sela were considered to be the firm favorites entering the finals of the Israel championships, but by the end of the day it was the play of Julia Glushko and Amir Weintraub which everyone was talking about.
Weintraub stunned Sela 7- 6 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (8) to win the men’s title for the first time in his career, while Glushko pushed Pe’er all the way before falling 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.
“This is the biggest win of my life,” said the 24-year-old Weintraub, who is currently ranked number 281 in the world, three places below the career-best he reached three weeks ago. “I have grown in confidence in recent weeks and that helped me believe that I could win this match. I didn’t know if I would play here after my grandfather passed away on Wednesday and I dedicate this title to him.
“I hope this victory will give me a push forward at the start of 2011,” added Weintraub, who will be playing in the qualifiers of the Brisbane tournament this week.
Sela (75) seemed to be in control at the start of the final, winning the first three games.
However, Weintraub, who will soon have to step into the shoes of the retiring Harel Levy and Noam Okun as the Davis Cup team’s No.
2 player, came right back, and edged Israel’s No. 1 in the first set.
Sela took a 3-0 lead in the second set as well, but this time he remained in front to tie up the match.
The third set was tight throughout, with neither player managing to break serve.
It would all come down to a decisive tiebreaker in which Weintraub would come back from 5-2 down to claim a dramatic win.
“I made too many mistakes and didn’t take advantage of the chances I had,” Sela said.
“I hope Weintraub continues to do well in the future.”
Pe’er (13) crushed the 21- year-old Glushko (235) in the first set of the women’s final, and at that stage, those on hand were surely expecting a repeat of last year’s title match in which Pe’er defeated her Fed Cup teammate to the lost of just three games.
Pe’er had dropped just three games in her three matches leading up to Friday’s final, but unlike last year, Glushko never gave up and tied the match with an impressive second set.
Israel’s No. 1 looked to be on her way to the victory after surging into a 4-1 lead in the third set, only for Glushko to take three games on the trot and set up a thrilling finale.
Pe’er held her nerve the better of the two players in the closing stages and clinched her fifth straight national championship and seventh overall, trailing only Tova Epstein’s record of 11 titles, including eight consecutive between 1965 and 1972.
“This was a very tough match. Julia has made a significant improvement,” said Pe’er, who leaves for Australia on Tuesday before beginning her 2011 season in Brisbane next week. “Julia was very aggressive and she deserves every compliment.
She showed a lot of character.
As soon as she will play more against the top players she will learn from the experience and become a better and better player.”
Pe’er also spoke of her goals for 2011.
“I would like to do better in Grand Slams this season and reach quarterfinals for the first time since 2007,” she said. “I also want to win some titles after reaching so many semis last year. If I begin the season well I believe I will break into the top 10.”
Glushko was disappointed with the result, but pleased with her performance.
“I was really close this time,” said Glushko, who won four ITF titles last year and will be looking to break into the top-200 in 2011. “I played really well and gave Shahar a fight. I’ve made a lot of progress in recent months and the fact I almost beat the world No. 13 gives me a lot of confidence heading into next year.”