Ons Jabeur will enjoy 'two parties' after Eid victory over Belinda Bencic at Madrid Open

Tunisian to face former world No 1 Halep in quarter-finals after three-set win over reigning Olympic champion in Spain

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur celebrates during her 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Belinda Bencic at the Madrid Open. Reuters
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Ons Jabeur secured her place in the Madrid Open quarter-finals after defeating Belinda Bencic in three sets on Monday.

The Tunisian ran out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victor over 11th seed Bencic in the Spanish capital and will now take on Simona Halep in the next round.

In the Arantxa Sanchez Stadium, Jabeur joked with the crowd that they should consider supporting her against Halep, who knocked out their home favourite Paula Badosa in the previous round.

“Just a reminder guys, Simona won against Paula and she's Spanish so if she wins you have to cheer for me,” laughed Jabeur after her win over reigning Olympic champion Bencic.

In a match that was interrupted by a sudden rainstorm that flooded the court, Jabeur put on a show in the final game, flaunting her unique touch and pulling off impossible gets on her way to the last eight.

The win came on a special occasion for the 27-year-old as she celebrates Eid with the Muslim world. “It's two parties let's say. Some people were telling me, 'Listen this is Eid, so you have to win today'. So I was trying my best,” said Jabeur, who at No 10 in the world, is the highest-ranked player left in the draw.

“Part of me is very proud of myself for coming today and getting the win. Belinda is such an amazing player and it's very tough to play against her. I'm very happy with the level I showed today, and hopefully this level will continue for the rest of the tournament.”

Former world No 1 Halep recovered from falling 4-1 down in the second set to defeat American teenager Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-4 in 77 minutes.

Madrid has been a happy hunting ground for Halep, who clinched the winner's trophy twice from a tournament record four final appearances in the Spanish capital.

A break in the ninth game was enough for Halep to scoop the opening set in 28 minutes and she wiped away a three-game deficit in the second to reach the quarter-finals without dropping a set.

“I felt like I played the exactly what I had to play. In the second set she changed a little bit,” Halep said in a post-match interview.

“She's been more aggressive and it was not easy to adjust, but in the end I pushed her back and I did what I wanted to do … We played a few times so I knew what to expect.”

On the men's side, Gael Monfils eased past 20-year-old Spanish wild card Carlos Gimeno Valero 6-3, 6-0 to book a second-round meeting with world No 1 Novak Djokovic.

Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner fought back from a set down and then saved three match points to dispatch American Tommy Paul 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 in a three-hour battle to move into the next round. “It was a very difficult situation. I was up in the first set 5-2 and then I lost it,” said Sinner, who will now face Alex de Minaur.

Updated: May 02, 2022, 5:55 PM
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