Tennis-Jabeur makes Wimbledon history for Arab women by sealing last-eight spot

·3-min read

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) -Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a dazzling 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory over seventh seed Iga Swiatek on Monday.

Jabeur lost four games in a row from a position of strength to concede the opening set on Court Two but responded in sensational fashion to outplay last year's French Open champion.

The 26-year-old has now beaten three Grand Slam champions so far here, taking out five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams and Spain's Garbine Muguruza during her impressive run.

In doing so she has endeared herself to the Wimbledon crowds with a wily game full of variety but also power when required.

Jabeur will contest her second Grand Slam quarter-final on Tuesday against Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka, having reached her first in Australia in 2020.

While that was viewed as a surprise, even by herself, the Tunis-based player has reached at least the third round of every subsequent Grand Slam tournament and became the first Arab woman to win a WTA title on the Birmingham lawns last month.

"It was a great feeling back in Australia in 2020. I wasn't expecting to be in the quarter-finals that time," she said.

"This time is different. This time I've been going to the second week almost every Grand Slam. So I think everybody was kind of expecting me to be in the second week.

"My goal is to break this quarter-final and be able to go to the semi and why not the final? I'm enjoying my time here in Wimbledon, enjoying the grass a lot."

MISSON ACCOMPLISHED

When Swiatek struck a majestic backhand winner down the line to take the opening set it seemed that the Pole was beginning to take charge of a match in which she started nervously.

But Jabeur started the second set like a woman on a mission, breaking to love in the opening game then holding her own serve with a trademark dropshot that had Swiatek slamming her racket into the net tape in frustration.

It was a sign of things to come as Jabeur broke serve again in the next game with a belting forehand winner at the end of a long baseline exchange. The Tunisian then saved three break points, one with an ace, to lead 4-0.

Swiatek's serve began to look vulnerable and on set point down she rolled in a 66 mph delivery that Jabeur nonchalantly dinked over for a winning dropshot.

There was no stopping 21st seed Jabeur in the decider after a Swiatek double fault gifted her a 3-1 lead.

Serving for the match at 5-1 she showed no nerves, sealing a win with an ace and receiving a warm ovation from the crowd who thoroughly enjoyed watching her multi-dimensional game.

Afterwards she revealed she had one very special fan.

"Actually I got congratulated by Roger (Federer) after my match, which was amazing. I think now I'm good in my tennis career," she said. "That inspires me a lot and gives me the hunger to win more."

For the 20-year-old Swiatek, who burst into the limelight by winning the French Open last year, it was just part of the learning process on grass.

"Like winning just one match was a great achievement for me," said Swiatek, who was in the main draw here for only the second time having lost in the first round in 2019.

"This grass season is really a positive for me. I hope I'm going to use that in future years."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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