Ons Jabeur makes more Wimbledon history after beating Iga Swiatek to reach quarter-finals

Tunisian bounces back from losing first set to thrash world No 9 5-7, 6-1, 6-1

Ons Jabeur is no stranger to creating history when she steps on to a tennis court. Just the past few weeks alone she has broken new ground by becoming the first Arab woman to win a WTA Tour title, and now, on the hallowed courts of the All England Club, the first Tunisian to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

If the victory in Birmingham last month was a breakthrough moment for the 25-year-old and provided a tangible souvenir of her historic success, Jabeur's achievements at Wimbledon arguably hold even greater significance; the audience is larger, the tournament more prestigious, and the opponents far tougher.

Indeed she has faced, and dispatched, three Grand Slam champions so far and all in emphatic fashion. After the routine win over Venus Williams in the second round came a superlative performance to take out Garbine Muguruza — and with it earn Jabeur her first slice of history as the first Arab woman to make the Wimbledon fourth round.

Monday's opponent represented another step up in quality in the form of world No 9 and former French Open champion Iga Swiatek. The 20-year-old from Poland is one of the WTA Tour's brightest young stars, but she was no match on the day for Jabeur, who shook off a late first set wobble to canter to a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win. Another victory, another piece of history.

Winning matches and going deep at Wimbledon has been impressive enough, but the style in which Jabeur has achieved each win has earned her a legion of new fans. Of the 30 winners she hit against Swiatek, the world No 24 delivered it all: from booming groundstrokes to deft drop shots, thunderous aces to soft-handed volleys. She is a player who combines power with creativity and it makes watching Jabeur so much fun.

“It was a great match. I lost the 5-3 lead at the end of the first set, I had to close it but then I stayed calm; I didn’t think getting angry would be the answer for me, so I just stepped in, point by point and played my game,” Jabeur said after her win on Court Two.

“You have to change it up a little bit, everybody knows I’m doing drop shots now. But honestly I didn’t feel the need to do any drop shots today, just a few times. Being aggressive was the key today and that’s what I did.”

Next up for Jabeur is yet another top-tier player. Second seed Aryna Sabalenka, who beat Jabeur in straight sets at the start of the season in Abu Dhabi, has been formidable at Wimbledon and her immense power and aggression are tailor made for the grass courts.

Yet, this is a player who despite her undoubted ability and lofty ranking has perennially underachieved at the Grand Slams — this is the first time Sabalenka has gone beyond the fourth round — so it should make for an enthralling matchup.

Whether or not more history awaits for Jabeur on Tuesday, it has already been a Wimbledon to remember for the Tunisian trailblazer.

Whomever ultimately advances from that quarter-final will play either former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova or Swiss world No 66 Viktorija Golubic after their respective wins over Liudmila Samsonova and Madison Keys on Monday.

On the opposite side of the draw, top seed and world No 1 Ashleigh Barty ended the 15-match win streak of French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova with a 7-5, 6-3 victory on Centre Court.

“An incredibly tough match. She has had an incredible year. I found some pretty good stuff when I needed it most, which is great,” Barty, 25, said.

“I get my confidence from all the work I do with my team behind the scenes. This is the fun part where I come out and can enjoy myself. There's no place I would rather be at the moment.”

Barty could face the only Wimbledon champion remaining in the draw in the semi-finals after 2018 winner Angelique Kerber sealed a 6-4, 6-4 win over American teenager Coco Gauff.

Updated: July 5th 2021, 4:43 PM
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