Ons Jabeur is a Wimbledon quarterfinalist for a second consecutive year, after beating Elise Mertens 7-6 6-4 on No.1 Court,. The Tunisian is yet to drop a set, and is the clear favourite to make the final from the bottom half and, after Iga Swiatek’s exit, to win the title.
Despite Jabeur’s flawless record at SW19 this year, things did not go all her way against the Belgian in what was a tight affair. The first set was a back and forth encounter, with four breaks of serve in total, but there was nothing to separate the two at 6-6. It was Mertens who took the early initiative in the tiebreak, gifting herself a 6-3 lead. The world #31 failed to convert five set points in total and Jabeur’s resilience paid off, taking the opening set tie-break, 11-9.
This was key for the Tunisian, who had lost her only other meeting with Mertens back at last year’s US Open. It felt as though Jabeur was going to kick on from winning the first set, getting an early break in the second. Mertens had other ideas though, immediately retaliating with a break of her own. In the end it was Jabeur who prevailed, with the Belgian double faulting on match point allowing the Tunisian to secure a spot in the last eight once again.
It may be the end of the road for Mertens in the singles, where she has once again made at least the third round of a Grand Slam for the 17th consecutive time. However, she is still in the doubles, where she is defending her Wimbledon title.
Last year making the quarterfinals of Wimbledon was a great achievement for Jabeur, but anything but the title would be a disappointment now. Especially with the way the draw has panned out, meaning that the highest ranked player in the Tunisian’s half is world #66 Marie Bouzkova. Bouzkova is the world #2’s next opponent, in a first meeting on Tuesday. The Czech player has beaten some high quality players with grass-court pedigree including Alison Riske and Caroline Garcia, but Jabeur is the overwhelming favourite.
The other quarterfinal in Jabeur’s half is an all German affair between Tatjana Maria and Jule Niemeier, who have a combined ranking of 200. On paper, Jabeur already has one foot in the Wimbledon final, but it is clearly not as easy as that. The Tunisian has shown her intent to become a Grand Slam champion though, stating that “No matter who’s coming, I’m going to build the fight, I’m going to fight till the end because I really want the title.”
If Jabeur was to fulfil her destiny, it would be greatly received across the tennis community, with the Tunisian being one of the most popular players amongst both fans and her colleagues. It would also have a wider impact than just tennis, with her impact on Arab, African and Muslim women so very important.
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