MELBOURNE: Israeli Shahar Peer’s first round match at the Australian Open passed off without incident yesterday despite threats of a pro-Palestinian protest.
Peer woke up yesterday to headlines in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper claiming that protesters were planning to target her match against Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic on an outside court.
Her appearances at the season-opening WTA event in Auckland were similarly disrupted by people opposing Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
But there was no sign of any trouble during her 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1 win here over Hradecka.
“I heard there was going to be something but I didn’t know what was happening,” Peer said.
“But I didn’t feel any pressure, I mean I played in Auckland and I had a lot of protesting, but I’m just concentrating on my tennis.
“I’m a tennis player – that’s what I’m concentrating on.”
Peer, who was at the centre of a storm when she was denied entry to Dubai last February for the US$2 million Dubai Championships, has no extra security at the Open despite being the only Israeli on the women’s tour.
She said she had never asked for anything more than what is provided for other players.
“I know that there is security going on around me – I don’t know exactly how much but I really feel safe,” she said.
“I guess I am just here to focus on my tennis, I’m not here to focus on security or what is going on outside of the court.
“I don’t know why (they don’t target the Israeli men), if they give me a reason I would understand.
“But I really don’t know why it’s me – I don’t think I did anything wrong.” — AFP