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Wickmayer, Pennetta reach Auckland final

Wickmayer, Pennetta reach Auckland final

When Yanina Wickmayer was banned for anti-doping violations, the first player to offer unconditional support was Israel's Shahar Peer.
That gesture created an element of pathos when Wickmayer beat Peer 6-4, 7-5 in Friday's semifinals of the ASB Classic, the first tournament she has played since a Belgian civil court lifted her one-year ban in December.
Her opponent in the final will be top-seeded Flavia Pennetta, who swept past Italian compatriot Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-0.
Peer, who has faced a traumatic week as the target of anti-Israel protests which have led to eight arrests, spoke Thursday of her disappointment at the treatment of Wickmayer.
Wickmayer and compatriot Xavier Malisse were banned in November for failing on three occasions to inform Belgian anti-doping officials of their whereabouts, as WADA rules require.
Wickmayer said anti-doping officials continued to send warnings that she was in breach of the whereabouts rules to her home in Belgium while she was playing in Australia.
Last month, a court lifted Wickmayer's ban pending an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights. That cleared the way for her to play in Auckland in the leadup to next week's Australian Open.
"It was a shame she got the ban and I'm happy she could come back," Peer said.
"I sent her an email to support her and I said I hoped she was fine. They went too far with the penalty, which she did not deserve."
Peer's support and her budding friendship with Wickmayer counted for little Friday as the Belgian third seed fought her way into the ASB Classic final. She broke the Israeli's serve in the third and fifth games, dropping serve in the sixth, to win the first set in 35 minutes.
Peer was aggressive and determined in the second set, taking a 3-0 lead, but Wickmayer, who served well in windy conditions, fought back to break the Israeli and level the set at 3-3.
Peer held serve under pressure in the seventh game, won the ninth game to love but dropped serve again, critically, in the 11th game, allowing Wickmayer to serve out the match.
"I didn't play my best tennis today but she didn't either," Wickmayer said.
Wickmayer will play the winner of the second semifinal between top-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta and her fourth-seeded compatriot Francesca Schiavone in Saturday's final.


Updated : 2021-10-26 08:59 GMT+08:00