After a phenomenal clay-court season (title in Madrid, finals in Charleston and Rome, Stuttgart quarterfinal), Ons Jabeur was considered one of the main contenders for the 2022 French Open. When she was placed in the bottom half of the draw (as in the one without Iga Swiatek, who is on a 28-match win streak), she was a very popular pick for who will make the final. But it wasn’t even three hours into the main draw event when Jabeur was eliminated by Magda Linette 3-6 7-6 7-5.
Linette troubled Jabeur for a bit at the French Open last year (third round) before completely collapsing and only winning one game in the last two sets. The Pole hasn’t been in great form recentl,y and with Jabeur’s clay season being the best behind Swiatek, it sure seemed like an upset iwas straight-up out of the question. Linette also held a 2-17 win/loss record against top 10 opposition (and only one of these wins in a completed match).
Magda Linette’s best performance in quite some time; Ons Jabeur struggling with heavier conditions
To make matters worse, the Pole was also battling a leg injury. In the post-match interview, she mentioned that it was hard for her not to focus on the pain at first. Jabeur took the opening set 6-3 and was putting pressure on Linette, who showed great mental persistence coming out of a 0-40 hole at 3-4 down in the second. She managed to take it to a tie-break and force a decider.
The courts on Sunday were a bit heavy in Paris, significantly slower than what we saw in qualifying. That wasn’t to Jabeur’s liking as she struggled to hit winners past the Pole’s incredible defense. Linette also played with a lot of confidence when needed and served brilliantly in the last couple of sets. Even in cat-and-mouse rallies, she managed to outplay the Tunisian, which is usually not possible against someone with stunning touch. It was a performance we haven’t seen from the Pole in months, perhaps even never.
Jabeur made a brief fightback from 2-4 down in the decider, but proceeded to get broken from 40-0 up to lose the match at 5-6. You could see how nervous she was in a few points in the last game, including a missed smash that would have granted her the tie-break. This leaves the bottom half of the women’s draw extremely open to surprises. It truly feels like it’s (almost) anyone’s game now. Jabeur was the third favorite to win the tournament according to the bookmakers, behind Swiatek and Simona Halep. Now she’s out in Round 1.
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