Shahar Peer is used to outdoing even her own expectations. During her first season on the senior circuit last year, the 19-year-old said she hoped to break into the top 100 in the world - she ended the season in the top 50. At the beginning of the current season Peer said she hoped to work on improving her technique and become a worthy opponent to the world' s top players.
Yesterday Peer picked up her third title of the season when she beat top seeded Russian Anastasia Myskina 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the final of the Istanbul Cup to pick up a $30,000 pay check and vault to No. 26 in the world.
When Peer won her first career title in Pattaya, Thailand in February, she did not have to face top opposition, and the same applied when she took the Prague open two weeks ago. This time around, however, it was a different story.
En route to the final, she notched her first ever win against a top 20 player when she crushed 15th-ranked Anna-Lena Groenefeld, the No.2 seed, 6-0, 6-2. In the final she came up against Anastasia Myskina, a former French Open champion and world No. 2, currently ranked 12th and aiming for her 11th career title.
The Israeli teenager, seeded fourth at the event, fought back from a disastrous first set and withstood the Russian leading 5-4 and 6-5 on serve in the third and deciding set. Peer had taken a 3-0 lead in the final set, but Myskina went off for treatment after aggravating a right forearm muscle strain and the Israeli allowed the Russian back into the game at 3-2. Peer held her serve, before Myskina took three straight games to lead 5-4 and 6-5, but Peer held firm in the tie break to take the title.
"This is my biggest victory," said Peer who tied Nadia Petrova for fewest games lost en route to winning a title this year, having dropped just 26, equaling the Russian's run at Doha in March. "To beat someone ranked as high as Myskina, this was an amazing end to the tournament. I never gave up and I kept believing in myself. It's great to win another tournament just before the French Open so I'm going to go to Paris really high on confidence."
"My arm started to hurt in the second set and so I was having trouble holding the racket," said Myskina who is projected to rise to No.11. "It was natural for her to hit to my forehand, but I just kept fighting. I came close today but not close enough. However, I made the final here, so I'm really happy with my week. I started the match well and I was pleased with my game so that is a positive sign going into Roland Garros."
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