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Venus beats Peer to set up Azarenka showdown

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:54

Venus Williams will face Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships after beating Shahar Peer 6-1 6-4.

The defending champion, playing on the smallest show court she can remember as she faced the first Israeli woman athlete to compete in the United Arab Emirates, produced a dominant semi-final performance that ends the event’s security nightmare.

With tensions heightened after allegations that Israelis assassinated a Hamas leader in a nearby hotel, security personnel opted to keep her playing on the controlled environment of an outside court.

But despite the odd suroundings, Williams raced through the first set and saw off a spirited Peer fightback in the second set to reach the final.

“I can’t even speak of what it must be like for her,” Williams said afterwards when asked about Peer, who had been based in an out-house, separate from other players all week.

“You know I wondered what it would be like playing on that court. How would it feel playing against her – if I would feel the pressure she might feel.

“But when I was on the court, honestly, I was focussed on the match. I didn’t think about anything else. Just looking across at her it seemed she was doing the same thing.”

Peer, who was barred from entering the Emirate last year, described her Dubai experience as “different, but nice.”

“I am sure I will remember this tournament for the rest of my life. I have made many friends in Dubai,” she said.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t manage to win it, which will be my dream. But there will be no complaints. I achieved a lot in this tournament, professionally and mentally and for myself.”

“I am sure for Venus it was not ideal to come to court two and I told her afterwards that I really appreciated her support,” Peer added, cognisant that her opponent had been honoured by the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organisation, in New York in August.

“I think she has a really good heart and understands a lot of things, and I really appreciate her. It’s not ideal to be on court two, but we have to do what we have to do.”

WIlliams will face the in-form Azarenka in the final. The Belarusian reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, and came from 2-4 down in the second set to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-4.

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