(Wimbledon) Ons Jabeur (6th in the world) took revenge for the last Wimbledon final on Kazakh Elena Rybakina (3rd), whom the Tunisian beat 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-1 in London Grand Slam quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“If I could swap this match with last year’s…” commented Jabeur, 28, who lost that 2022 final after winning the first leg.
“I’m very happy with this performance. The match was very emotionally charged, especially because she serves really well. It’s frustrating when you play back, but I’m glad I did it all: scream, get mad, calm down, refocus. I hope to be able to control my emotions like that in the next games,” she added.
She will try Thursday against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (2nd) to qualify again for the final on the London lawn. If she succeeds, she would become the first player to chain two finals at Wimbledon since Serena Williams (2018-2019).
But if she played two Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon and United States Open 2022), the Tunisian has not yet been crowned.
First player in the Arab world to have reached the quarters of a Major (Australia 2020), and at Wimbledon (2021), she could become the second woman from the African continent to have played three Grand Slam finals after South African Amanda Coezter .
Wednesday against Rybakina, his first task was to tame the service of the great Kazakh (1.84 m).
She started this quarter with the record of 342 aces since the start of the season, including 26 at Wimbledon in four games.
Since losing the very first set of the tournament, Rybakina had never been broken again and only had to defend seven break points.
Jabeur shattered these statistics by taking his serve five times and offering himself a total of nine break points.
In the first set, the Kazakh broke to take a 3-1 lead, but immediately conceded her face-off without earning a single point.
Very few points were actually played in the first eleven games: six of them were blanks (including a break for Rybakina and one for Jabeur) and in the other five only five points were played.
Trailing 6-5 after being broken for the second time in the set, Rybakina saved a set point before leveling at 6-6 to take the set to the tiebreaker.
There she broke away 6-3 and pocketed the set on her third set point.
“The first round should have worked out in my favor!” launched Jabeur. But I was a little doubtful, I yelled at my coach saying “you told me to play like this and look!” But I believed in this game plan and I continued to apply it, “commented Jabeur who, faced with the power of Rybakina, notably opposed his demonic ball touch.
In the second set, only one break was achieved, in the final game by Jabeur who thus equalized at one set everywhere.
As in the 2022 final, the duel between the two players would be decided in three rounds.
Last year, Jabeur won the first before losing the next two. This year, the opposite happened.
Sabalenka qualified earlier on Wednesday by dominating American Madison Keys (18th) 6-2, 6-4.
Semi-finalist at the last United States Open, winner at the Australian Open and semi-finalist at Roland-Garros, Sabalenka confirms her status as the main and perhaps only real rival for the time of the number one WTA, Iga Swiatek, eliminated Tuesday in the quarter-finals by the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
With her powerful style, this match also confirmed that the Belarusian’s worst enemy is none other than herself.
She had taken the initiative from the start of the first set, with a break on the first game, never to release her grip on her opponent, overwhelmed.
Keys hunkered down and, taking advantage of a slump on serve from Sabalenka, whose first serve went from 62% in the first set to 50% early in the second, the American broke to lead 4- 2.
A semi-finalist at the French Open and the US Open in 2018 and at the Australian Open last year, Keys then led 40-0 on his commitment, Sabalenka being too imprecise and sometimes too impatient in the exchange.
But the Belarusian eventually set the sights again, winning 13 of the next 14 points to lead 5-4 serve to go.
With a low backhand that caught the tape of the net, Sabalenka missed her first match point, but she concluded on the next one by once again pushing her opponent to the fault with her powerful shots.