Tennis: 'Proud' Jabeur avenges Wimbledon final defeat

AFP , Wednesday 12 Jul 2023

Ons Jabeur says she still cannot bring herself to watch her painful defeat to Elena Rybakina in last year's Wimbledon final after avenging the loss in Wednesday's last-eight clash.

Jabeur
Tunisia s Ons Jabeur celebrates winning a point against Kazakhstan s Elena Rybakina to win their women s singles match on day ten of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

 

The Tunisian sixth seed beat her third-ranked Kazakh opponent 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-1, letting out a roar of delight on Centre Court.

The 28-year-old will face Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka for a place in Saturday's title match at the All England Club.

"Crazy match, difficult match," said Jabeur. "But I'm glad that I got the win this time.

"I wasn't ready to play this kind of match (last year)," she said. "I don't regret last year. It happened for a reason. I always say it.

"It was meant to be this year. It was meant to be in the quarter-finals. I have learned a lot from the final last year. Definitely very proud of myself for the improvement that I did mentally, physically, and with the tennis racquet."

But Jabeur revealed she has not been able to bring herself to watch last year's final, when she went down in three sets in her first Grand Slam final.

"I can't, very difficult," said the Tunisian. "I couldn't watch it. Very, very difficult.

"Until this day, I couldn't watch this match. I can watch today's match. That's OK, but not last year's.

"Even watching the Netflix show (which follows the tennis tours) was painful. If I watch the whole match, it would have been terrible.

"I'm glad that I'm speaking with my coach a lot and he's explaining things for me. I've watched a few points, but not the whole match."

Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final last year, also lost in the final of the US Open to Iga Swiatek and has still not won a major.

Comeback

She did not have it all her own way on Wednesday.

Rybakina was first to pounce, breaking to love in the fourth game when her opponent went wide with a backhand but the Tunisian hit back immediately.

Jabeur took advantage of a loose volley at the net from Rybakina to break again and edge into a 6-5 lead.

But this time she was the player who failed to consolidate, squandering a set point as Rybakina forced a tie-break, which she won.

The Kazakh survived break points in the second game of the second set while Jabeur was forced to dig deep on her serve to move into a 3-2 lead.

Both players held serve until the 10th game, when Rybakina cracked and Jabeur levelled the match.

The force was with Jabeur in the decider as she opened up a 3-0 lead and saved two break points to move 4-1 ahead.

Jabeur powered a backhand down the line to break once again and held her serve to seal the win.

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