Photo: Reuters
Shahar Peer. Remarkable run
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Venus Williams. End to security agonies
Photo: Reuters
Peer loses to Venus in Dubai semifinals
Williams moves one step closer to retaining her title at Dubai Tennis Championships with victory over Israeli player

Venus Williams put an end to the security agonies of the $2 million Dubai Open on Friday when she halted the remarkable run of pioneering Israeli Shahar Peer.


But the defending champion had to cope with the smallest arena she has played in for many years before winning 6-1, 6-4 against the first Israeli woman athlete ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates.


Even though Peer had done more than enough, after defeating three seeds and reaching the semi-finals, to deserve a match on the centre court, the security and police deemed it safer to keep her playing on one of the outside courts.


It meant that the five times Wimbledon champion had to make her way through the throng and out towards the trees and shops to play in an unfamiliar ambience - but she still made the better start, hurtling through the first set in only 23 minutes.


"In the first set Shahar was making a high ratio of errors, but in the second set she didn't and I had to dig deep," said Venus, "and in the end my serve came to my rescue."


Indeed there were moments when it seemed Peer might get into the match in a big way.


She found her ground-stroking rhythm, allied it to her now-famous tenacity, and came up with three games in a row to reach 3-2.


Had Venus not slowed her preparation right down in the next game and come up with some heavy first deliveries, Peer might well have gone a break of serve ahead.


Fought tigerishly till the end

Peer should have reached 4-4 when, with the whole court open at game point, she unaccountably put a forehand inside-out drive into the net from close up.


But she fought tigerishly till the end, running down many of Venus's fiercest drives, throwing up teasing lobs, and forcing two deuces before the champion could close the match out and reach the final for the second successive year.


Much of this was overshadowed by the implications of the whole encounter however.


The tournament organizer will now breathe a collective sigh of relief that the potential nightmare of harm to Peer appears to have been averted.


With allegations continuing to fly around about the identity of those who assassinated a Hamas founder member in a nearby hotel, tension had been palpable and rising with each unexpected Peer victory.


As a result the tournament risked both the anger of those who had pre-booked centre court tickets expecting to see one of the world's greatest stars, and long queues straggling through the site in the direction of the outside courts.


There was room only for about 1,200 people scatted across the galleries at one end only of three adjacent courts, some with only partial views of the action, and none allowed to take bottles of water out into the considerable heat.


But the whole thing appeared to pass off without setbacks, apart for minor expressions of annoyance, and the odd sight of the WTA Tour's chief executive Stacey Allaster taking a seat half way along the wire netting at the side of the court to watch what should have been one of the highest profile matches of the week.


 new comment
See all talkbacks "Peer loses to Venus in Dubai semifinals"
This will delete your current comment