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INTERVIEWS

March 13, 2007

S. PEER/A. Chakvetadze

6-4, 7-6

An interview with:

SHAHAR PEER

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the match today. Seemed surprisingly routine for you.
SHAHAR PEER: Yeah, I mean, it was really tough match. Anna is a tough player. I played her already three times, once at juniors and two times in the women's tour. She's a tough player. She's everywhere, and she -- every point she's in the match, and one of the tough -- a tough match. It was very warm outside.
But I think I did the best thing in the best moment, you know. At the tiebreaker, I was going for my serves. The second set, we had hard time to keep our serves, and we always broke to each other except three times. I think on the right moments I went for my shots and that's why I won.

Q. Do you think training out here kind of helped you deal with the heat today?
SHAHAR PEER: No, actually -- I mean, I've trained here, but I never trained -- I trained very early in the morning or like at 2:00 o'clock or 3:00 o'clock, but I've never been so hot. Except last year, I was here actually in July, which was very warm. I was here for five, six days, but it was last year. But coming from a country which is very hot, too, so maybe my body is okay.
But for everybody it's tough. I was feeling, after the first set, if I will keep running like that and it will be third set, I would be dead. I didn't know. But I was just fighting for the second set and I start to feel better and better.

Q. Daniela or Martina next up. Could you comment, please.
SHAHAR PEER: Both of them are very good players. Of course I played Martina last year in French Open and was tough match. I lost against her. And Daniela, I played two years ago in Wimbledon, so it was long time ago. But they had tough match last time in Dubai, Doha, one of the tournaments. I don't know. Depends who's gonna win, but of course I'm expecting for a tough match.

Q. A few other regions in the world where desert has been transformed so markedly, here in the Coachella Valley and Israel. Is that striking to you in some way, and do you see any similarity in the desert climate?
SHAHAR PEER: Like I said, I mean, I'm coming from warm country. I don't know if it -- if that's what your question, if it helps me, the conditions here?

Q. No, just does it strike you how the desert has been transformed in the same way --
SHAHAR PEER: I don't understand the question.
THE MODERATOR: You know how there's like a town here in the desert, so Palm Springs is in the desert, and then he's saying in Israel, they've done the same thing, they've built towns in the desert. Is that what you're saying, Jerry?

Q. Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Is it the same? Does it look the same?
SHAHAR PEER: Not really. More in the north, of course. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is not like that, but more in the north is very, it's similar to here. But I live in the center of Israel.

Q. Did you take notes today of Maria's match out in center court?
SHAHAR PEER: I haven't watched the match, but I heard there the result when she lost when I was in my match.

Q. All right.
SHAHAR PEER: I don't know. I didn't see the match, so...

Q. When during your match did you find out about Maria?
SHAHAR PEER: Yeah, during my match I heard the -- I always hear scores from other matches, so...

Q. But with that result, does it feel like this tournament is kind of opening up a little bit and becoming an opportunity?
SHAHAR PEER: Of course, Maria, she's No. 1 in the world. You can say it opens up the draw. But she's good player. She was top 10, and now she's coming back. She's a tough player, and actually, I'm not facing her yet, so I'm not in this side of the draw. I have my own opponent and I have to think about my side.

Q. It's been said that your training in the Israeli Army was important, that there would be no better way to learn discipline than doing that. Could you talk a little bit about your time in the army?
SHAHAR PEER: Yeah, but the army didn't give me -- I didn't learn to be disciplined, all those things. I mean, I was two and a half weeks in the basic training, but it didn't teach me. I had a Russian coach when I was young for six years who teach me all the -- to go to sleep early, to come 15 minutes before the practice for warm-ups.
So the army is different. Of course I had a good time in the basic training, and now I just do my duties for two years now.

Q. So the army wasn't too bad? It was pretty easy after all the training you have with your coach?
SHAHAR PEER: It's different. The boys, they do the hard work, and some of the girls. It depends which direction you go. So I'm not the one who is all day outside and doing the training. I'm in the office, so I had a different basic training than other people.

Q. Do you know much about when Jose won this tournament or has he mentioned that to you at all?
SHAHAR PEER: I know he won the tournament, but --

Q. He never told you anything about it or him winning it or anything like that?
SHAHAR PEER: No. And we talk a lot, but I don't know, no.

Q. I noticed in the match, it seemed like Chakvetadze was having trouble with some of the sort of loopier balls. Did you pick up on that, as well? Did that figure into your game plan at all?
SHAHAR PEER: I'm kind of player who change always the pace. I never play in one pace, so I guess every match I change also against every player. And, of course, it's hard to deal with the different pace. So I know like for Anna, she likes to hit the ball; she likes to take your pace out. So, I mean, if you hit to her hard, she likes it, so I had to mix it a little bit.

Q. You're the only player from Israel on the women's tour --
SHAHAR PEER: No.

Q. Well, you know, prominent one. You see so many other countries that have got a few players and tend to stay together. How do you find it? Do you find it difficult on the tour? Do you feel any pressure because you're the most prominent one from there to be producing results?
SHAHAR PEER: Like I said, I'm not the only one, and, of course, we have the men's also playing, Andy and John, the top players in doubles. I always said, I don't feel pressure. I feel the people in Israel give me a lot of support and they don't put any pressure on me. I know I'm young and they expecting for a lot of good results, but I'm doing my job. I started good this year and just enjoying being on court and practice and go on court and play the matches. So I feel no pressure.

Q. What really caused you to feel the result or forced you to make a breakthrough? It's been over the last year or so you've taken the stride, the step up in the ranking and started to produce the results. What do you suggest was the breakthrough for your turnaround?
SHAHAR PEER: I think -- I mean, it's only my third year on the tour, so last year, I finish -- I mean, this year I finished -- 2006, I finished 20, 2005, I finished 45, and the year before I finish almost 200. So I'm going step by step. I was never jumping from 200 to No. 1 in the world. I always went, since I'm young, step by step, and I think I'm just doing the right things. I'm never in a rush.
A lot of girls, they go at age 16 already in top 20. I mean, everybody in her own pace, and I just think my new coaches, I mean, I change everything. I change my tennis, my fitness coach, also with Jose I started. It's all working well and I'm happy.

Q. So do you think it was important for you to take that gradual step out of juniors? One of the two or three best juniors in the world, and then gradually working your way through, do you think that's grounded you?
SHAHAR PEER: I didn't understand.

Q. Do you think that's what's kept your feet on the ground, rather than, like you say, from 200 to 1 in the ranking?
SHAHAR PEER: I wish I could go from 200 to 1, but I guess my tennis is not good enough. No, really. I cannot say I can be No. 1. I'm not good enough. I played against Henin, I played Sharapova, I played against Clijsters. I think Henin and Clijsters are much better than me still. So, I mean, there is no reason that I would be No. 1, but I do -- I am top 20 and I'm reaching slowly, slowly. I'm starting to get closer to the top 10. So I just have to keep on and practice on my things and I'm playing good.

Q. Is the top 10 your main focus right now?
SHAHAR PEER: No. I mean, they ask me a lot this question in Israel. They always ask, When you gonna get to top 10. I say, It's a nice question, but it's so much points difference between me and the top 10. I have to do very good in big tournaments, which I'm starting to do better and better. And I to play good in the Tier I's and grand slams and then maybe I will get into the top 10.

Q. Best thing about Jose as a coach, the single best thing about him? He's a tremendous tennis mind and coaching talent, but what is the best thing about him?
SHAHAR PEER: I don't know. It's hard to say. I think he's teaching how to play more tennis, you know. Everybody play, but he teach more how to play the game. I mean, it's a little bit difference from what I learn before, I mean, the tips and everything. And I think we have a good (indiscernible). We just doing good on the court and he's good with my coach who's struggling with me and everything is going well.

Q. Specifically what is the best quality, best thing about traveling the tour as an Israeli, what is the best thing?
SHAHAR PEER: To what sorry?

Q. What is the best thing about traveling the tour as an Israeli, coming from Israel, the best thing?
SHAHAR PEER: I don't think there is any best thing as coming from Israel. I mean, I don't see any difference between me or somebody from Spain or U.S. I don't know.

Q. While you have been working with Jose, have you met a young girl that Jose is also coaching named Coco Vandeweghe?
SHAHAR PEER: Yeah.

Q. What do you think of her potential? Have you hit with her?
SHAHAR PEER: Yeah, I've been hitting with her.

Q. What do you think of her?
SHAHAR PEER: She's a good player. I mean, she's a big, tall girl, and very talented. But, of course, she has a lot to work on. I mean, I'm not a coach, but she was playing here in the tournament, and I mean she prequalified from the -- she got into the qualifying and almost won her first round.
But I mean, it's Jose's job to do what he has to do with her, but she's doing well. I mean, she's practicing hard and that's what's important.

Q. What part of your game do you have to improve the most to jump up a few positions on the ranking?
SHAHAR PEER: I think everybody together, you know. I'm trying to be more aggressive, which is working. I always been fighting on the courts and moving well, so, like I said, to be more aggressive, to keep improving my serve, which I'm improving and it's getting better, and I think this is the two most important things. To also have more variety in my game.

Q. Did you get much support or funding from the ITF to develop?
SHAHAR PEER: From ITF?

Q. Mm-hmm, as a junior, I'm talking as a junior. No?
SHAHAR PEER: Not at all.

Q. You know, the media has focused a lot on you being from Israel. Do you feel that the media makes too much of your nationality, you know, as you were saying, like whether you're from Spain or U.S.A.? Doesn't matter when you're on tour? Do you think the media makes too much of it?
SHAHAR PEER: No, because, you know, they're looking for nice stories, and no one on the tour have been in the army except me, Anna and CP (phonetic), which we are the only ones from Israel. So, of course, they look for those nice things, and, I mean, that's the job of the media, to find the nice stories, interesting things.

Q. What is the your rank in the Israeli Army or what was your rank?
SHAHAR PEER: I don't know what.

Q. Like corporal, PFC?
SHAHAR PEER: Just normal.

Q. What are you?
SHAHAR PEER: Just the lowest thing, I don't know. Because everybody was doing the two years. After a few month, eight month, it gets -- I don't know how to explain.
THE MODERATOR: Promoted.

Q. So you had no ranking in the Israeli Army?
SHAHAR PEER: Just normal.

Q. Private?
THE MODERATOR: Very private. Thank you very much.
SHAHAR PEER: Thank you.

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