DUBAI Feb 15 Shahar Peer, who is being kept
away from her rivals at the Dubai Championships in a
heavily-guarded compound for the second year in a row, said she
was feeling under even more pressure to succeed this time round.
Two years ago the tournament received a record $300,000 fine
from the WTA and was threatened with removal from the tour after
the Israeli was refused a visa to compete.
Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates which, like most
Arab countries, has no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state and
Israelis are routinely denied entry.
Peer was granted entry in 2010 and reached the semi-finals
before losing to Venus Williams. The security conditions she
encountered last year exist again this week but she said that
was not the reason she felt extra pressure to perform.
"It's because I want to do well," the ninth seed told a
group of reporters allowed into her compound after a 6-4 6-1
first-round win over Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez on
"I played good here last year so always when you go back to
a tournament where you played good, you want to repeat it."
Peer has some familiar faces taking care of her again this
year in the compound inside the tournament grounds, providing
VIP treatment with her own private locker room, lounge and food.
"It's the same people around me ... really nice people ...
taking good care of me," she said. "It kind of feels like home
so you can get the same inspiration because you feel very
"I feel great here and will try to be here as long as
Peer said the isolation helped her focus more on her tennis
"You're very concentrated. Last year I learned a lot for my
future career, to try and not hang around at the tennis, to be
there as less as possible and to really finish, do my matches,
win, and go back," she explained.
"I have my dad here with me. We watch some movies and are
really trying to have some fun together."
While many believe that politics and sport should not be
mixed, Peer takes the opposite view.
"They should be connected, I think," said the Israeli. "They
respect me coming here and really appreciate me coming.
"I think we're all trying to make one thing together, to be
human beings and to respect each other."
In other matches, eleventh-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta
beat Australia's Jelena Dokic 6-2 6-2 and 12th-seeded Estonian
Kaia Kanepi overwhelmed Russian Vera Dushevina 6-1 6-2.
Two players who claimed titles on Sunday, 13th-seeded Czech
Petra Kvitova and unseeded Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, went out.
Paris Open champion Kvitova lost 7-6 7-6 to Japanese
qualifier Ayumi Morita and Hantuchova, who travelled from
Thailand after winning the Pattaya Open, fell 6-1 6-3 to Russian
Switzerland's Patty Schnyder ousted 14th-seeded Serb Ana
Ivanovic 4-6 7-6 6-2.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez. To query or comment on this story