Israeli Shahar Peer handed organisers of the Barclays Championships a scheduling dilemma she reached the semifinals 7-5, 3-0 when eighth-seeded Chinese opponent Li Na retired with lower back pain on Thursday.
World number 22 Peer, who stirred up a hornets’ nest of controversy a year ago when she was refused a visa by the UAE and was unable to compete, has been playing this week on a well-secured side court, with the few spectators put thorough airport-style security before taking seats in the well-patrolled stands.
With Peer next facing the winner from defending champion Venus Williams and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the decision on where to stage that match is sure to be an agonising one.
Peer has quietly worked her way through the week as the first Israeli to play in the ten-year-old women’s event, which preceded the well-established men’s ATP week dating to 1993.
Li, an Australian Open semifinalist, took treatment on court for her back problem and was unable to go on after 77 minutes.
The Israeli broke four times against her hampered opponent as she reached a third semifinal of 2010.
The victory over Li was the first for Peer after losses to the Chinese eighth seed at the US Open and Doha in 2008.