Obziler, Valtzer crowned national champions
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Tzipi Obziler wins second consecutive championship against Shahar Pe'er 6-4 6-4 in a repeat of last year's final.
Tzipi Obziler won her second consecutive Israeli national championship on Wednesday evening, beating Shahar Pe'er 6-4 6-4 in a repeat of last years final. Dekel Valtzer was crowned men's champion for the first time in his career with a 3-6 6-4 6-3 win over Amir Weintraub. Obziler, who is ranked 138 in the world, has now won the Israeli championship three times, with her first victory coming in 2000. "The most important thing is the final result," Obziler said after the match. It was a tactical game and we both played well." Pe'er, who is ranked 45 in the world and was the champion in 2001 and 2003, struggled with her serve for most of the match and committed numerous double faults. "I've been making changes to my serve this week and it showed today," Pe'er explained after the game. The match began with both players unable to hold their serve and the first eight games all went against the serve. Obziler was the first to hold serve, winning the ninth game and going up five games to four. Pe'er wasn't capable of holding off Obziler in the tenth game and the set ended at 6-4 to Obziler. After being broken in her first five service games, Pe'er finally held on to her serve at the start of the second set. Pe'er picked up her game in the second set and opened a 3-1 lead. Obziler hit back immediately and won three games on the trot. Pe'er temporarily stopped the rot winning the eighth game and evening the set at 4-4. Despite Pe'er's comeback attempt, Obziler proved to be too strong on the day and the veteran won the next two games and the set 6-4. "Obziler played really well and she earned her victory," said a weeping Pe'er after the match. "It's the second year in a row Obziler has played well against me and she deserves all the credit." Pe'er tried to explain the tears at the end of the match and said, "Nobody likes to lose, but you need to learn to handle defeats. I'm a professional athlete and I hate losing. Nothing connected for me and I didn't manage to string together a good run of points." The men's final resumed at one-set-all after rain stopped play on Friday. Valtzer broke Weintraub in the first game of the third set and never looked back. Weintraub was unable to handle Valtzer's power game and the 21-year-old opened a 5-2 lead. Weintraub managed to break Valtzer's serve in the eighth game, but was broken back immediately and Valtzer won the set and the match. "It's a great feeling," said Valtzer after the match. "The rain delay was extremely difficult for me. I won the second set on Friday and the momentum was on my side, but the rain delay meant I had to comeback and start all over today." Weintraub, who qualified for the final after Israeli number one Dudi Sela had to retire with an injury, said, "It's disappointing to lose. He had a little luck in the first game of the set and after that he played defensive tennis and that won him the match." The 2006 tennis season is set to begin in a couple of weeks and the Israeli championship was a perfect chance for the players to prepare and set goals for the coming year. "I hope to qualify for all the Grand slams this season and I want to finally break into the top 100 players", Obziler said. Obziler and Pe'er leave for Australia next week where they will play two tournaments before the Australian Open begins in the middle of January. "I had a brilliant 2005 and ended the year ranked in the top 50," Pe'er said. "My goal for this year is to improve my results in the Grand Slams and to improve my all round game."