Ons the road to maiden Grand Slam title
TUNISIAN Ons Jabeur has become the first female player to reach the Wimbledon and US Open finals in the same year, after the fifth seed bulldozed her way into the Flushing Meadows decider. Decimating the red-hot Caroline Garcia in an unbelievable performance, Jabeur dropped just four games and did not face a break point on her way to a comfortable 6-1 6-3 victory in just 66 minutes. She will now take on world number one Iga Swiatek, who was less convincing in her win over sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka, needing three sets to reach the final, 3-6 6-1 6-4.
After earning a day’s break, Jabeur came out firing to repeat her effort at Wimbledon where she made, and eventually lost the final to Elena Rybakina. Up against the most in-form player on Tour in Caroline Garcia, Jabeur showed no mercy as she completely destroyed the Frenchwoman, restricting Garcia’s usual power and getting on the front foot herself. The Tunisian served eight aces and hit 21 winners to only 15 unforced errors, not facing a break point for the first time in 2022.
Though her serve percentage was terrible (43 per cent), Jabeur’s ability to somehow scrape through at win not only 83 per cent of her first serve points but 57 per cent of her second serve points, proved vital. It allowed her to stay on top, not face a break point and break her opponent four times from only the four chances.
“She comes in the court and puts a lot of pressure on my second serves. I’m really glad she didn’t break me in the end … would have been really tough to go to 5-4,” Jabeur said post-match.
Despite Garcia’s good run of form, the Frenchwoman has never been able to work out Jabeur, losing all seven times the pair have gone head-to-head. Jabeur said she used that mental strength to get through, and is looking forward to the huge US Open final on Saturday (Sunday morning AEST).
“After Wimbledon, a lot of pressure on me,” Jabeur said. “I’m really, really relieved that I backed up my result. I’m very glad I made it to the finals here.”
In the other match, top seed Swiatek looked in trouble at different stages of her match with Sabalenka, but managed to fight it out to win, 3-6 6-1 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes. After falling a set behind, the Pole won the second set in a canter, storming to a 6-1 win to level the scores at a set apiece. An early break to the Belarusian in the deciding set had Sabalenka 4-2 up, only for Swiatek to drop just four points in the final four games and take out the match.
“I felt a huge difference between the first set and the last two,” Swiatek said post-match. “I’m pretty happy that I got my level of energy up a little bit. “Aryna made it difficult today, for sure. “I felt like she was serving pretty solid. It was hard to come back in the third, but I’m pretty happy that I did.”
Swiatek hit 24 winners for 31 unforced errors, remarkably hitting two more winners than the powerful Sabalenka, but 13 less unforced errors as well. She put in 73 per cent of her first serve points and won 53 per cent of her receiving points, breaking seven times to five, of which the last two came in those crucial final four games. Having won two French Opens, the world number one is eyeing off her third Grand Slam, but first away from the Paris clay.
“[Jabeur] has a different game style than most of the players,” Swiatek said. “She has a great touch. All these things mixed up, yeah, she’s just a tough opponent.”