Venus helps, then beats Peer in semis
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP):
Venus Williams moved one step closer to retaining her title at the Dubai Tennis Championships with victory over Israel's Shahar Peer yesterday.
Third-seeded Williams won against the unseeded Peer 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 23 minutes in their semi-final match.
Williams will now take on fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka (4) of Belarus, who defeated seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi-final.
"I am definitely pleased to be in the final," Williams said. "I wondered how I would feel playing against her, if I would feel the pressure she might feel. But once I was on the court, I was just focused."
Peer's movements in Dubai have been restricted to the court and a hotel due to the organisers' security concerns.
The Israeli, who was last year denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates authorities, was surrounded by security and played on the most secure court at the Aviation Club.
"I cannot even speak of what it must be like (for her)," Williams added. "She played so well this week."
Peer's defensive approach failed to slow her opponent who raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set.
Peer won the fifth game against serve, but Williams quickly extinguished the Israeli's hopes of a comeback by taking the final two games to win the set 6-1 in just 23 minutes.
Decisive second break
In the second set, the players traded breaks of serve early before Williams secured a decisive second break in the seventh game.
Williams then survived five break points in the following game to go 5-3 up, the American eventually serving out to win the set 6-4 in an hour and secure the match.
"She started very strong. She was all over me," Peer said. "I felt like I had no time in the points. I think I played a very good second set. I missed one or two chances, but overall it was good tennis."
Shahar also had words of thanks for Williams, who agreed to defend her title only if the Israeli player was admitted to the country this time around.
"I told her I really appreciate her support this week, and last year," Peer said, adding that Williams took the decision to move yesterday's match, from the central to a side court, gracefully.
"It's not ideal to play on Court Two, but we have to do what we have to do."
Peer also downplayed the controversy that resulted in a $300,000 fine for the Dubai tournament last year, saying she was pleased with how the week had gone.
"I think I achieved a lot in this tournament, professionally and mentally. I've been going through a lot and I am really happy how I managed this week.
"I learned I am a very good player and I can be there at the top."