For a moment on Saturday, it felt like somewhere in 2019, when Bianca Andreescu was slaying the best players in the world. However, we are well and truly in 2023 and a long delay caused by the rain will have been enough to thwart the ambitions of the Canadian against Ons Jabeur, in the third round of the Wimbledon tournament.
“I have to thank the rain, which allowed me to speak with my coach and get a better perspective of the game. I wasn’t playing my best tennis,” Jabeur confessed after winning in three sets of 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Of course, Andreescu’s defeat cannot be explained solely by the 47-minute stoppage, pronounced in the middle of the last set. At this time, the Tunisian had just broken through her rival to close their gap to 3-2.
The two players had shared the first two sets and the third was fiercely contested. Andreescu landed the first blows and Jabeur was just defending. The result will have proven that the defense is still, very often, the best attack.
Before the start of the match, everyone had the right to expect a match of extreme quality. Jabeur, a finalist a year ago, continues to excel on grass. Of course, the sixth player in the world was the favorite in this duel.
However, she had to be wary of the Canadian. Andreescu had been exquisite in her first two games. Although she lacked consistency before her arrival at the All England Club, the 50th player in the world ranking had been amazing since the start of the fortnight. Not least because she easily found solutions when she was in trouble. She has regained the aggressiveness, tenacity and grace that made her a major tournament champion.
We therefore expected good things from the Ontarian. But never before has she taken the first leg so easily in just 30 minutes. Everything was working. His game at the top of the field completely bluffed Jabeur, unable to keep up.
“It was frustrating,” Jabeur said of having to face a player who, like her, masters a very varied range of shots. His drop shots and spin balls, it was tiring! Now I know how other players feel when they play against me. »
After the first set, Andreescu had won seven shots and committed only three unforced errors, in addition to winning 16 of his 19 points in first serves.
Where Andreescu failed was when it came to taking advantage of his opponent’s largesse on serve. During the match, Jabeur passed only 51% of his first serves. A rare degree of mediocrity in a player of her caliber.
The 28-year-old was in full control when her first serve landed. She even ended the match with a sharp ace on the “T”. Andreescu, however, would have had an advantage in picking up the points when this was not the case. She faced eight break points but converted just two. For his part, Jabeur transformed his three break points into games.
There is still something positive to be learned from Andreescu’s presence on the service. This had been her main flaw in the first two games, the reason why she had taken so long to get rid of her opponents. Jabeur was able to take advantage of a first break point only late in the second set.
Andreescu can therefore leave London with his head held high. She reached the third round at Wimbledon for the first time in her career. She will also move up the rankings by about seven places. In addition, she came within a late-game break of knocking out a top-10 player in her first career match on center court at Wimbledon.
This season against the top flight, the 23-year-old has struggled a lot, losing three in four games against top-10 players.
In Saturday’s game, Jabeur took the lead just once in the final set, when she broke Andreescu at 4-4. During this streak, the Canadian was only a shadow of herself. All his efforts were scuttled in the space of a few awkward exchanges.
The beautiful Bianca Andreescu is back. Even if she has to pack her bags before the official start of the second week of the tournament, she can leave with a sense of accomplishment.