Jabeur makes African history with Wimbledon final spot against Rybakina — Inquirer Sports

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur returns the ball against Germany’s Tat­jana Maria dur­ing their women’s sin­gles semi final ten­nis match on the eleventh day of the 2022 Wim­ble­don Cham­pi­onships at The All Eng­land Ten­nis Club in Wim­ble­don, south­west Lon­don, on July 7, 2022. (AFP)
LONDON – Ons Jabeur became the first African woman in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam sin­gles final on Thurs­day when she defeat­ed close friend Tat­jana Maria in the Wim­ble­don semi-finals.
The 27-year-old world num­ber two from Tunisia tri­umphed 6–2, 3–6, 6–1 and will face Ele­na Rybak­i­na in Saturday’s cham­pi­onship match.

Russ­ian-born Rybak­i­na, rep­re­sent­ing Kaza­khstan, knocked out 2019 cham­pi­on Simona Halep 6–3, 6–3.
“I’m a proud Tunisian woman stand­ing here,” said Jabeur, who was the first Arab play­er to make a Slam semi-final.FEATURED STORIES
Before Thurs­day, South Africans Irene Bow­der Pea­cock, at the 1927 French Open, and Renee Schu­ur­man, in the 1959 Aus­tralian Open, were the only African women to have reached a Slam sin­gles final.
“It’s a dream come true from years of work and sac­ri­fice. I’m hap­py that’s paid off and I’ll con­tin­ue for one more match,” said Jabeur.
“Phys­i­cal­ly, Tat­jana is a beast, she doesn’t give up — I thought she would give up — her touch, her serve and every­thing on the court is impres­sive. I hope she con­tin­ues this way. Let’s not play again, I’m good for now.
“I know in Tunisia they are going crazy right now. I want to see more Arab and African play­ers on the tour. I love the game and I want to share the expe­ri­ence with them.”
Jabeur coast­ed through the first set against moth­er-of-two Maria with breaks in the third and sev­enth games.
The Tunisian fired 15 win­ners to her opponent’s six in the first set while not fac­ing a sin­gle break point.
How­ev­er, Maria, described by Jabeur as her “bar­be­cue bud­dy”, did man­age to final­ly break through for 3–1 in the sec­ond set off the back of a series of del­i­cate slices.

Jabeur’s 17 unforced errors in the sec­ond set com­pared to the six of the more accu­rate Ger­man, who lev­elled the contest.
But there was to be no upset win as the 103rd-ranked Maria’s chal­lenge was quashed.
Jabeur secured a dou­ble break for a 5–0 advan­tage before secur­ing her place in his­to­ry on a sec­ond match point.
‘Amaz­ing match’
Rybak­i­na over­pow­ered for­mer cham­pi­on Halep, break­ing the Roman­ian four times in a dom­i­nant dis­play on Cen­tre Court.
“It was real­ly good — today I was men­tal­ly pre­pared and did every­thing I could and it was an amaz­ing match,” said the 23-year-old.
“I think it’s going to be a great match (against Jabeur). She’s a great play­er, very tricky play­er. It’s not going to be easy to play against her drop shots and volleys.”
For­mer world num­ber one Halep had not lost a set com­ing into Thursday’s match but was imme­di­ate­ly under pres­sure against the big-serv­ing 17th seed.
Rybak­i­na, who stands six feet (1.84 metres) tall, raced into a 3–0 lead with an ear­ly break of serve and had break points in all of Halep’s ser­vice games in the first set.
Halep, seed­ed one place above her oppo­nent, did well to stay in touch but failed to carve out any break points of her own in the first set.
Rybak­i­na, the first woman rep­re­sent­ing Kaza­khstan to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, showed no mer­cy at the start of the sec­ond set, break­ing again to estab­lish an iron grip. 

Halep broke to love in the fourth game to estab­lish a foothold but a dou­ble fault in the fol­low­ing game hand­ed the ini­tia­tive back to her opponent.
Rybak­i­na, the ace leader in the women’s tour­na­ment, sealed an impres­sive win on her first match point with a back­hand win­ner down the line to break Halep again, wrap­ping up the match in 76 minutes.
The 23-year-old switched her nation­al­i­ty to Kaza­khstan in 2018 to take advan­tage of greater finan­cial help.
Russ­ian and Belaru­sian play­ers were banned from this year’s Wim­ble­don fol­low­ing the inva­sion of Ukraine.


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