Venus defeats Peer to end Dubai security agony
DUBAI: Venus Williams put an end to the security agonies of the 2million dollar Dubai Open on Friday when she halted the remarkable run of the 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.
Peer described her experience in Dubai as "different but nice".
"I am sure I will remember this tournament for the rest of my life. I have made many friends in Dubai," she said.
"Unfortunately I couldn't manage to win it, which will be my dream. But there will be no complaints. I achieved a lot in this tournament, professionally and mentally and for myself."
"I am sure for Venus it was not ideal to come to court two and I told her afterwards that I really appreciated her support," Peer added, cognisant that her opponent had been honoured by the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organisation, in New York in August.
"I think she has a really good heart and understands a lot of things, and I really appreciate her. It's not ideal to be on court two, but we have to do what we have to do."
Williams, the five times Wimbledon champion, 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."
Peer then 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.
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.
Tournament organisers will now breath 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.