Peer is down for Dubai

LANCE HORNBY AND BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

Sharar Peer won't be taking a bye in Dubai next year.

The 22-year-old Israeli, the centre of a storm earlier this year when the United Arab Emirates didn't issue her a visa to play, intends to play in the country in 2010 and is glad she became the poster girl for keeping politics out of tennis.

"I'm really happy the media covered it, because it shows that the people also believe what I believe," Peer said yesterday after her first-round victory over Romanian Monica Niculescu (6-4, 4-6, 7-6) at the Rogers Cup.

"As long as (discrimination) does happen, I'm happy to be there to (fight) it."

Peer had found out three hours before flying to the UAE from an event in Thailand that she was shut out, the official reason cited was fear her native country's military actions in the Gaza Strip would cause riots at the event. The UAE and Israel have no diplomatic relations.

Peer didn't try to force the issue, but the WTA, sponsors and high-profile players such as men's star Andy Roddick verbally blasted the UAE.

After Israeli doubles player Andy Ram also was threatened with a ban, all parties vowed a boycott of future events. Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles added their support for Peer while at the Rogers Cup this week.

But matters have been resolved and Peer now gets a warm welcome everywhere on the WTA tour.

"I was all over the news, in Italy and Sweden, everywhere," she said. "I think sports can (bridge differences). Next year, I can go to Dubai and it's nothing to do if I'm Israeli or not."

Because she was to be in the main draw at Dubai, Peer was given a wild-card ticket to any other tourney and picked the Rogers.

Clijsters rolls

Kim Clijsters continued her comeback from a two-year retirement with a dominant 6-3, 6-4 victory over Britain's Elena Baltacha.

The win last night comes after Clijsters began her comeback with a solid outing last week in Cincinnati beating, among others sixth-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova.

It took her just 69 minutes to dispatch Baltacha, providing further evidence that she could regain the status that made her a serious rival to the once-dominant Williams sisters.

"I think it's great always when you have past Grand Slam champions come back to the game," Seles said earlier this week. "She's still very young and I think we're all rooting for her to make some great results."

The 25-year-old Clijsters retired in May 2007 and became a mother last year. But after competing in an exhibition match at Wimbledon she decided to return to competitive tennis.

Clijsters held the No. 1 ranking for 19 weeks in 2003 and won the U.S. Open in 2005.

Changes coming

Starting in 2011, the two versions of the Rogers Cup will run the same week, with the men in Montreal and the women in Toronto.


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