Ons Jabeur tumbles out of Australian Open second round in less than an hour

Tunisian sixth seed beaten in 54 minutes by Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva

Ons Jabeur and Mirra Andreeva greet each other at the net after their second-round match at the Australian Open. AP
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Ons Jabeur has exited the Australian Open in the second round after a comprehensive defeat to teenager Mirra Andreeva on Wednesday.

The Tunisian sixth seed was well below her best, while the Russian debutant played one of the best matches of her prodigious career to claim a 6-0, 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena in just 54 minutes.

Ranked world No 47 and playing her first tournament at Melbourne Park, Andreeva was electric to earn her first win over a top-10 player, having burst onto the scene when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year as a 16-year-old qualifier.

"I was really nervous before the match because I am really inspired by Ons and the way she plays," Andreeva said. "Before I started to play on the WTA tour I always watched her matches.

"In the first set I showed amazing tennis, I honestly didn't expect that from myself. I just wanted to play on this big court for the second time and just to enjoy the tennis and the time, and I did."

While making her professional debut at the tournament, Andreeva played on the Australian Open's primary stadium court last year when she made the girls' final, losing to fellow Russian Alina Korneeva.

"I feel like I am a bit more mature than I was before," she said. "Over this year I think I have changed a lot and I think you can see that on the court."

Having appeared to find form and momentum in the second set of her first-round win, Jabeur was completely out of touch on Wednesday.

She won only eight points across the six games of the first set, and just three from the baseline, while making 10 unforced errors. Her serve was not firing, either, with only 38 per cent of first serve points won and just 13 per cent on second serve.

Jabeur, a three-time Grand Slam finalist, finally held serve to get off the mark in the opening game of set two, raising her finger in the air in celebration. But the teenage Russian kept coming and broke again for a 2-1, then 4-1 as Jabeur's shoulders slumped, knowing it was all over.

It is the second time in as many years Jabeur has been eliminated from the Australian Open in the second round after last year's health scare when she required medical assistance as she turned blue and struggled to breathe.

For Andreeva, this was another statement victory for a player who appears increasingly destined for the top. She is now into the third round of a Grand Slam for the third time in her career, having reached the same stage at last year's French Open and going one better at Wimbledon a month later.

Andreeva, who turns 17 in April, is also the second-youngest player in the Open Era to concede three games or fewer to a top-10 player in a Grand Slam match – after Jelena Dokic, who defeated Martina Hingis by the same score in the first round of Wimbledon in 1999.

The Russian will face France's Diane Parry in the third round.

Jabeur will next be in action at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open on February 5 to start the WTA Tour's Middle East swing.

Meanwhile, defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a huge scare before beating home hope Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 to reach the third round.

The Serb, aiming for a record-extending 11th crown in Melbourne, was in deep trouble in the third set when errors began to flow and he had to save four set points.

With the packed night-time crowd on the edge of their seats, top seed Djokovic used his vast experience to win the pivotal tiebreak and then broke a dispirited Popyrin midway through the fourth set to finally seize control.

The 36-year-old duly racked up his 30th successive victory at the Australian Open - his last defeat coming in 2018 - but for the second successive round he was pushed hard.

Updated: January 17, 2024, 1:27 PM