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Got A Semifinal Ticket For Center Court In Dubai? Well, Venus Won't Be On It

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Barclays Dubai Tennis ChampionshipsVenus Williams, USA
(Photos by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

DUBAI (AFP) - Venus Williams will have to play her semi-final in the two-million-dollar WTA Dubai Open on a distant outside court on Friday after beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-4 in the last eight here.

That is because the defense of her title has carried her to a meeting with Shahar Peer, the first Israeli ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates, who has been playing her matches on a low-profile court where security is more manageable.

It means that many of the 5,000 fans who have pre-booked centre court tickets in the hope of seeing one or more of the the world's best known players will be unable to do so, because the five-time former Wimbledon champion will be on a faraway court out by the trees and the shops.

"I guess I just want what is best for everyone," said Williams, after admitting that it was a long time since she had been scheduled to play on such a minor court. "And if this is the best decision then I support it."

Williams looked as though she might have a spot of bother when she went 1-3 down in the first set to an 18-year-old former world junior champion, who hit the ball like an express train and had the titleholder scrambling to contain her early on.

But the match changed mood after Pavlyuchenkova served a double fault in the sixth game and then played an indifferent point at 30-40 to allow a Williams break back.

It led to the champion taking six matches in a row and gaining such a hold on the match that she accelerated to 4-2 in the second set, with the teenager's error ratio rising to self-destructive levels.

However the potential danger of the fierce-hitting young Russian's game showed itself again near the end, when she began to put Williams under more consistent pressure again with raking drives.

Pavlyuchenkova even looked capable of breaking back in the final game, and Williams needed fully seven match points before she closed it out with a heavy service winner.

Earlier Peer scored her third victory over a seeded player, reaching the semis when Li Na retired after "suddenly feeling a click" in her back early in the second set.

Peer's 7-5, 3-0 success over the Australian Open semi-finalist nevertheless looked like a genuine victory, based again on tremendous consistency, rhythmic and varied driving, tenacious mobility and intense focus.

Needless to say, she wouldn't be phased by where she plays.

"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."

Asked if it would be a disadvantage if she reaches a final on centre court not once having played there, Peer answered: "I guess not, because I am winning. But you know I'm doing what I've been told. I'm not involved in the schedule.

"I just get it when my coach tells me where I'm playing, and I'm getting ready for the match."

Similarly Williams wouldn't admit to any disadvantage for her match on Friday, which will be the first time she has played away from the centre court this week.

"I am just focused on the semi-final and executing my game," she said.

"I have practiced out there before, but I have not played a match out there before. I will obviously try to make the experience I have gained from all these years count for me."

Posted by Shelia

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