Simon Reed

Peer protestors are loathsome

Simon Reed

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I'm astonished that people would once again protest against Shahar Peer's participation at the Auckland Classic just because she is representing Israel.

It is obviously the same people that caused the problems last year, and frankly the behaviour of the protestors is loathsome.

She is simply a tennis player, plying her trade - there is no agenda for her. Even if you don't like what her country stands for, Peer herself is not personally involved in any kind of politics.

She should be allowed to play without trouble, anywhere she wants, because she has done absolutely nothing wrong.

It was awful what happened to Peer last year in Dubai when she wasn't allowed to play but it was great to see the reaction of the tennis community, both male and female, who stood firmly behind her and took her side.

Frankly I thought that was the end of this issue, but it is sad to see it rearing its head again.

It seems like Peer has been able to cope with the unfair abuse. She is 22 now so I suppose she must have got used to it to some extent, but it certainly cannot help her, and her ability to block it out and continue playing is very admirable.

It is also great to see that she returned to the tournament in Auckland despite receiving abuse last year. Maybe she had to have a mental battle before making that decision but I'm pleased she has done it because if she hadn't, then the protestors would have won.

Instead she is now saying to the protestors: "I hear what you are saying to me, but it does not make an iota of difference."

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Looking at the draw for the Brisbane International and despite a decent field it is hard to look past the Belgian comeback queens Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters meeting in the final.

In Clijsters's half I cannot see anyone who can live with her, the way she is playing at the moment - she looks a shoo-in to get to the final.

Henin looks similarly strong, although if Ana Ivanovic can play her best tennis then that is potentially a great match before the final.

However, when I watched Henin playing Nadia Petrova it was as if she had never been away. She looked every bit as good as before she left the game and her performance mirrored what happened when Clijsters returned last year.

Henin beat Petrova in straight sets despite her opponent playing what I would call 'top-10 tennis'.

Anything that Henin does in her comeback wouldn't surprise me as much as what happened with Clijsters last year.

Clijsters's comeback was stunning because she returned from having a baby and I wasn't sure she had the motivation to compete at the top level of the game, but she certainly did.

If Henin wins in Brisbane and goes on to win the Australian Open, I wouldn't see it as such a big shock, although I suppose we are all slightly immune to shocks because of what Clijsters did at the US Open.

Certainly at this stage I see the two Belgians, along with Serena, as the current favourites for the Australian Open.

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