Ons Jabeur falls short in quest for historic title as Elena Rybakina wins Wimbledon final

Tunisian beaten in three sets by Kazakh at All England Club

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Russian-born Elena Rybakina powered back from a set down against world No 2 Ons Jabeur to win the Wimbledon title on Saturday.

Jabeur was in charge at the start of the match but the 17th seed, representing Kazakhstan, regrouped and dropped just four more games on the way to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Tunisian Jabeur had hoped to become the first Arab to win a Grand Slam singles title on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha.

But she was unable to maintain a superb start to the match and instead it was the more consistent Rybakina who worked her way back into the match before clinching victory on her first match point, offering only the barest celebration to indicate she had just achieved the biggest moment of her career.

“Thank you guys for your support, really appreciate it,” Jabeur said to the crowd on Centre Court in her on-court interview after the match

“First of all I want to congratulate Elena and her team – great job and she deserved this and hopefully next time it will be mine.

“I wouldn't do this without my team there. They always pushed me to do more so thank you for your support and believing me.

She added: “Elena stole my title but it's OK!

“I love this tournament so much and I feel really sad, but I'm trying to inspire many generations from my country. I hope they are listening.

“I also want to thank his beautiful crowd for all their support over the two weeks. It's been amazing.

“I want to wish Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating.”

Jabeur was hamstrung by nerves at the French Open, failing to make it past the first round having arrived as one of the title favourites, but Jabeur looked to be having the time of her life in the early stages out on Centre Court.

She skipped and jumped around on the grass, letting out a loud yell when she broke Rybakina in the third game.

The 23-year-old’s serve has carried her to the final but Jabeur was on to it straight away and had no problem handling the flat pace of her opponent’s groundstrokes.

Jabeur has won more matches than any other player since the start of last season having taken time to grow into the varied game that is now her biggest strength.

The sweetest of dinked backhand passes in the fourth game had the crowd gasping, and she confidently handled the pressure moments to take the first set.

One of the most pleasing things about the final was the clash of styles, and at the beginning of the second set, with Jabeur throwing in a sloppy service game, it was Rybakina’s power that began to take over.

She began to read and chase down Jabeur’s drop shots and, after the Tunisian was unable to take any of three break back points in the fourth game, Rybakina pulled away, levelling the match with an ace.

Jabeur needed to wrestle back the momentum at the start of the decider but Rybakina did not let her, leaving the third seed screaming at her box in frustration as tactics that were working in the first set were met with a superior response.

The crowd were fully behind Jabeur and it seemed her moment had arrived when she had Rybakina at 0-40 in the sixth game only for the Kazakh to escape, and that was to prove her final chance.

The new champions said after the match: “I was super nervous before the match, during the match and I'm happy it's finished to be honest. Really I have never felt something like this. I want to thank the crowd for the support, it was unbelievable these two weeks.

“But also I want to congratulate Ons for a great match and everything you have achieved. I think you are an inspiration for everybody. You have an amazing game.

“We don't have someone like this on tour and it is a joy to play against you. I ran so much, I don't think I need to do fitness any more.

“Thank you so much. It is just an unbelievable atmosphere. Thank you.”

Updated: July 09, 2022, 3:53 PM
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