Ons Jabeur 2021 Season Review
Win/loss record: 48/19
Titles: 1 (Birmingham)
Best result at a Major: Wimbledon QF
2021 was a life changing year for Ons Jabeur, a season full of career firsts that saw her continually break new grounds for Arab tennis. A true trailblazer for her part of the world. It was a season that saw the Tunisian crack into the top 10 for the first time, win her first career singles title and equal her best result at a Grand Slam.
Jabeur has always been considered one of the most talented players on tour. A flashy player, dangerous but inconsistent. That changed in 2021. Jabeur matched her undoubted talent with a newfound level of consistency and reliability, winning 48 matches in 2021. The equal most match wins from anyone on tour. Improved consistency wasn’t the most glamourous of achievements in 2021, but perhaps the most important improvement for Jabeur, allowing her to reach a career high ranking of #7 after her semifinal run in Indian Wells.
A maiden singles title eluded Jabeur for a while despite continued improvements. A loss to Astra Sharma in the Charleston 250 final was a real blow in her second career final. It was third time lucky a couple of months later when Jabeur finally lifted her first singles title as she defeated Daria Kasatkina 7-5 6-4 to win the 250-level Birmingham Classic on grass.
A maiden quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon was a highlight of Jabeur’s season. A second quarterfinal run at a major having reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2020. It was a run that included wins over Rebecca Peterson, Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, and Iga Swiatek before succumbing to Aryna Sabalenka. Tough three set victories over Muguruza and Swiatek were among the best of the Tunisian’s career.
Jabeur was consistent at the majors, winning at least a couple of matches at each Slam. It took a good player to beat her on each occasion. Beaten by Naomi Osaka in the third round of the Australian Open, Coco Gauff in the fourth round of Roland Garros, Aryna Sabalenka in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and finally Elise Mertens in the third round of the US Open. No disgraceful losses there, but there’s room for improvement at the majors, a couple of those matches were very winnable.
Another milestone was reached late in the season when Jabeur made her first semifinal at a 1000 level event in Indian Wells. Commanding straight set wins over Danielle Collins and Anett Kontaveit were the high points in the Californian desert. A spot in the WTA Finals seemed to be almost assured after her Indian Wells exploits, but a late tear from Anett Kontaveit cruelly denied Jabeur a spot in Guadalajara at the last moment.
Jabeur was able to succeed on every surface in 2021 thanks to her versatile playing style. With some slight improvements in 2022, including better execution in big matches, there’s no reason why the 27-year-old can’t climb even higher and push for a spot in the Top 5.
Main Photo from Getty.