DUBAI // Israel's Shahar Peer continued her unlikely voyage towards centre court at the Dubai Tennis Championship yesterday when her quarter-final opponent, Li Na, was forced to retire with a lower back injury midway through their match yesterday. The world No 22, competing for the first time in the UAE, has already beaten two top-10 players, in Na and world No 3 Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed at this week's tournament.
Yesterday, the unseeded 22-year-old got off to the perfect start, breaking her Chinese opponent's first service game to take an early lead, but Na, ranked No 10 in the world, showed spirit to break back in the eighth after Peer, whose serve has been inconsistent all week, double-faulted. Peer has been determined to succeed in the Emirates and she displayed that streak again in closing out the set, despite letting three break points slip in the 11th game.
Na, who had called for her trainer twice in the opening set, retired midway through the second set to give Peer a place in the last four. "It's been a while since I've been in a semi-final or final of a big tournament," said Peer. "But I'm beating so many good players and I'm playing very good. Everything is coming together and I hope to just keep going. "I started very well and I kept the lead for quite a while, but then she broke me back. I somehow found a way to keep momentum and I am really happy I could manage to win this set because it was very important."
Peer, who did not compete in last year's tournament after being denied a visa into the UAE, has played all her matches so far on Court One, a smaller, secluded side court where spectators have to pass through airport-like security gates. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org