African Ons Jabeur punches through to beat Aryna Sabalenka to reach the Wimbledon final

African Ons Jabeur punches through to beat Aryna Sabalenka to reach the Wimbledon final

Ons Jabeur showed that sometimes it’s better to float like a butterfly than sting like a bee as her technical prowess overcame the brutal beating of Aryna Sabalenka to reach her second Wimbledon final with a 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3 victory on Thursday.

Jabeur, who was defeated in last year’s final, seemed destined to suffer more heartbreak on Center Court when she lost the first set, but her sensitive technique and clever angles dampened the relentless strength of Belarusian Sabalenka.

The win set up a final between Tunisia’s sixth seed and unseeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova, the former 42nd-ranked French Open finalist who ended the hopes of Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina earlier on Thursday.

Jabeur, who also finished runner-up at last year’s US Open, moved past four match points but finally crossed the line with a header. She quietly raised her arms to the sky in celebration before contemplating some newfound mental toughness.

“I’m so proud of myself that I probably would have lost the game today and actually went home, but I’m glad I continued to dig deeper and find strength,” she said.

Jaber, who is aiming to become the first African and first Arab woman to win a major tournament, showed true steel this year.

She became the first woman to defeat three top-10 competitors at Wimbledon since Serena Williams, perhaps one of the strongest competitors in the game, in 2012.

Sabalenka, who missed last year’s tournament due to Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players, was about as tough a competitor as she could have been.

The second seed owned a recent Grand Slam record, having won the Australian Open in January and reached the semifinals at Roland Garros, while the world number one was hers when she beat Jabeur.

Tunisia’s Anas Jabeur plays during her women’s singles semi-final match against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at the Wimbledon Championships, Wimbledon, Britain, July 13, 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Neil Hall)

Aryna Sabalenka during her women’s singles semi-final match at the Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, Britain, on July 13, 2023 (Photo: EPA-EFE/Tolga Akmen)

roar return

The opening set was tight, with both players seeing break points slip through their fingers before they moved into a tiebreaker.

Jabeur grabbed the box seat when she delivered a stunning forehand down the line to take a 4-2 lead, but Sabalenka stormed back, winning the next four points to make up two.

The first set was left begging before Jabir sent a long comeback to deliver the opening set to the Belarusian, only the third Jabir has lost in the tournament so far.

By this point, Sabalenka had begun to snort loudly during the serve, with some of her growls continuing long after her opponent’s return and almost joining in her next loud exhalation.

The second set was more of a roller coaster ride, as Sabalenka got the first run of the game in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead.

With the Belarusian’s serve proving rock solid up to that point, the situation was bleak for Jabeur, but the momentum quickly turned in her favor.

A double fault by Sabalenka gave Jabeur a break point before her opponent hit a forehand for 4-4.

The pressure returned directly to the Belarusian player in the next serving match, as Jaber set a set point that devoured her with a backhand kick that went back down the line to level the match.

Sabalenka saved two break points in the sixth game of the third set with a massive forehand that won her racket like a shot, but when Jabeur set up a third she had no answer, serving a long backhand to put the Tunisian within sight of the end. Line.

After holding the serve, Jabeur earned her first two match points on Sabalenka’s serve, but the world number two again gave proof of her strength, saving the first with a header and the second when Jabeur’s return landed a long run.

This only delayed the festivities, however, as Jabeur fell 40-0 on serve, once again squandering her first two match points before sealing a place in the final with a header. DM


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