Ons Jabeur has defeated Garbine Muguruza in the third round of Wimbledon. By defeating the 2017 champion, she becomes the first Arab woman to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round and the first Arab, male or female, since Ismael El Shafei defeated Bjorn Borg in 1974. At a career-high ranking of #24 and having lifted her first title a few weeks ago in Birmingham, Jabeur is enjoying a break-out season, though this might just be the biggest win of her career.
Ons Jabeur def. Garbine Muguruza 5-7 6-3 6-2
Jabeur felt the weight of the occasion immediately, double faulting twice and getting broken to love in her first service game. Though Muguruza held her next service game, Jabeur had clearly settled down, threading a shot around the net post to earn a break point. Jabeur would hold her serve comfortably on her next two games, loosening up on her improvisational shots and drop shots. Both players started to struggle to hold their serves as Muguruza broke to serve for the set–Jabeur evened for 5-5 and, again Muguruza broke to serve for the set, demolishing her opportunities on the backhand. A few falls in the forecourt after Jabeur’s crafty drop shots didn’t dismay Muguruza as she rallied to take the first set.
Jabeur started to play more aggressively, finding her range on the forehand and pulling off the drop shot repeatedly, recognising it was taking Muguruza out of her comfort zone. She fended off break points in her third and fourth service games and even dug herself out of a 0-40 hole at the tail end of the set, leaving Muguruza 0/6 on break points converted in the second set. Jabeur also started to serve a lot better, winning far more first service points than she had in the first. One break of Muguruza’s serve was all she needed to even the score.
Without a doubt one of the most entertaining players to watch on the tour, Jabeur in full flow is an absolute joy to watch. In the final set, she really started to loosen up, using jumping backhands and forehand slices to hot-streak her way through five of the first six games. Muguruza didn’t have any answers, Jabeur’s variety and power often leaving her perplexed. Jabeur looked a little nervy stepping up to serve for the match as she opened with a double fault but some strong first serves calmed her down as she fearlessly took her second match point in a 17-stroke rally with a forehand down the line.
The best day of Jabeur’s career
This was potentially the highest quality match of the tournament so far, both players playing fantastic tennis but Jabeur in particular looking incredibly inspired. She told the crowd after she clinched the match. “This is the first time I played on Centre Court and it’s amazing energy, thank you… It is [the best day of my tennis career].”
Jabeur’s historic victory earns her a fourth round match-up against Iga Swiatek. Though Swiatek is yet to prove herself on grass, she could be dangerous. Given the way Jabeur was playing in this match, however, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top.
Main Photo from Getty.