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Page last updated at 18:29 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Security worry as Israeli Shahar Peer makes Dubai semis

Shahar Peer
Peer played her quarter-final amid heightened security on the Stadium Court

Israeli Shahar Peer made it to the last four of the Dubai Championships on Thursday, raising questions around the tournament's security provisions.

The 22-year-old, who led Ni La 7-5 3-0 when the Chinese player retired, is the first Israeli woman ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Peer has played all her matches this week on limited-access outside courts.

Her semi-final against Venus Williams will take place on Court Two rather than the 5,000-capacity Centre Court.

Williams had little problem in easing past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-4 in the last of the quarter-finals later on Thursday.

Spectators at Peer's quarter-final match on Thursday had to pass through metal detectors and press photographers were kept from their courtside positions on the Stadium Court.

I'm doing what I've been told and wherever I need to play, I'll play on

Shahar Peer

And Peer will play Friday's semi-final on an outside court in front of around 1,000 spectators.

"I'm the only player that hasn't played on Centre Court," she said.

"But whatever will be, will be. I'm not controlling it. I'm doing what I've been told and wherever I need to play, I'll play on.

"I'm not involved in the schedule. I'm just getting the schedule after my coach is telling me when I'm playing on which court, and I'm getting ready for the match."

Williams said: "I guess I just want what is best for everyone, and if this is the best decision then I support it."

Reflecting on Peer's progress, tournament referee Alan Mills said: "We have to take it day by day.

"The tournament has said that security is paramount, and it is the security and police who dictate what happens, so we will have to wait and see.

"We have already said, if she gets to the final, where are 5,000 people going to sit? It's something that they have obviously got in hand."

Last year, the Dubai tournament was fined a record US$300,000 (£207,000) and threatened with removal from the women's tennis calendar after Peer was refused entry to the UAE.

Tournament officials had said they feared a threat to the player's safety because of public opinion on the Gaza conflict.

And the 22-year-old's surprise run to the semi-finals of the prestigious tournament this year comes amid the political fall-out from last month's assassination of a Hamas commander, with Dubai's police chief saying he is 99% sure of Israeli involvement.

Peer will be joined in the semi-finals by Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland who came from a set down to beat Russia's Regina Kulikova 3-6 6-4 6-3.

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat Russia's Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-3 to secure her place in the last four.

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see also
Dubai names Hamas 'killer team'
16 Feb 10 |  Middle East
Hamas commander 'killed in Dubai'
29 Jan 10 |  Middle East
Dubai given record fine over Peer
20 Feb 09 |  Tennis
Israeli Ram given visa for Dubai
19 Feb 09 |  Tennis
Venus rules out boycott over Peer
18 Feb 09 |  Tennis
Dubai faces censure over Peer ban
17 Feb 09 |  Tennis

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