Ons Jabeur: Arab support 'pushes me to be better' as valiant US Open run ends in last 16

Tunisian battled flu all week and came up short against 23rd seed Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round

Ons Jabeur greets Qinwen Zheng at the net after their US Open fourth-round match. Getty
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Ons Jabeur said the support of the Arab world continues to push her to "be better" after the Tunisian's valiant run at the US Open ended in the fourth round on Monday night.

Fifth seed Jabeur battled the flu throughout her campaign in New York and after grinding through the previous three rounds, came up short against Chinese 23rd seed Zheng Qinwen in a 6-2, 6-4 defeat inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Jabeur struggled to catch her breath at times earlier in the tournament and she looked exhausted against Zheng, who will face second seed Aryna Sabalenka in her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Despite the disappointment of failing to replicate last year's run to the final – and coming weeks after a heartbreaking loss in the Wimbledon final – Jabeur said there were plenty of positives to take from the US Open.

"No matter what the tournament is, you always take a great lesson [away]," the three-time Grand Slam finalist said. "For me, I discovered something in me that can help me for the rest of the season and rest of my career: it's managing these conditions, I know that I can dig deep.

"Sometimes I'm tough with myself because today I couldn't turn on the warrior mode and it was disappointing, but I know that I was trying my best. It's tough to accept it at the time but that is the lesson I will take. We will work on some technical things and hopefully be ready for the next tournaments."

Jabeur's trailblazing achievements as the most successful Arab tennis player in history have made her a source of pride and inspiration throughout the Mena region. That level of support also comes with additional pressure and expectations, although the 27-year-old Tunisian insisted she uses it as motivation instead of a burden.

"I'm trying to get used to it. I want to make the Arab and African world proud of me and I'm learning how to handle those expectations," she said. "But honestly I don't see any negatives, only positives.

"I can't tell you the amount of messages I receive, either on social media or outside when I go to any country – there are always Arab women and men supporting me and it always pushes me to do better."

Also in the women's singles draw on Monday, third seed Jessica Pegula left Arthur Ashe Stadium in tears after losing an all-American clash 6-1, 6-3 to 17th seed Madison Keys, while Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova battled back to beat Peyton Stearns 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 6:54 AM