Ons Jabeur returns to form with 'magic' win over Jelena Ostapenko at Madrid Open

The Tunisian eighth seed plays her best match of the season to reach the quarter-finals 6-0, 6-4

Ons Jabeur needed just 67 minutes to beat Jelena Ostapenko and book her place in the Madrid Open quarter-finals. EPA
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Ons Jabeur has endured a tough season so far but the Tunisian suggested she is getting back to her best with a statement victory over Jelena Ostapenko at the Madrid Open on Monday afternoon.

Struggling with a persistent knee injury since the start of the year that forced her to miss the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Jabeur has found results and form hard to come by. Before arriving in Madrid, the former world No 2 had won just three of 10 matches in 2024 and was yet to win two matches in a row.

Whether it's her fitness improving or there's something special about Madrid – or perhaps a bit of both – Jabeur marched into the quarter-finals with a 6-0, 6-4 win over ninth-seeded Ostapenko.

The Latvian is the highest-ranked player Jabeur has beaten this year, and the result extended her win streak at the Madrid Open to nine matches. Champion in the Spanish capital in 2022, the Tunisian was forced to miss her title defence last year with a back injury.

"I had a really good warm-up today and I knew I needed to stay light on my feet, because players like Jelena will hit winners anytime from anywhere," Jabeur, 29, told the Tennis Channel. "I was just trying to find that momentum where I could slice, play dropshots and produce some magic on the court. That helps me be the player I want to be."

There was indeed plenty of the trademark Jabeur magic on show during a surprisingly lopsided first set. The eighth seed gave Ostapenko no time or opportunity to settle as the errors flew off the Latvian's racquet. Three breaks of serve and three comfortable holds saw Jabeur take the opening set in just 20 minutes, while limiting her opponents to just nine points.

The Tunisian increased her advantage with a fourth break to start the second set, but Ostapenko dug in and the former French Open champion restored immediate parity in Jabeur's first shaky service game of the match.

The remainder of the set was far more competitive as both players held serve, until Jabeur pounced on her first opening with Ostapenko serving at 4-4. One more break proved fatal to the Latvian's slim hopes of a comeback, and Jabeur closed out the victory in 67 minutes on her first match point.

With the French Open only three weeks away, Jabeur might be rounding into form at just the right time. A quarter-finalist at Roland Garros last year, the three-time Grand Slam finalist's biggest trophy came on clay – in Madrid two years ago.

"I think I'm very close, I would say the first set was my top form," Jabeur said. "I'm trying to stay calm, I'm handling the stress really well, handling players I don't like to play against well; I had a very tough practice against her a couple of days ago, so to lose 6-1, 6-2 in practice to going and winning against her today, that shows good maturity, I would say."

The tests don't get any easier in the quarter-finals for Jabeur, who will take on 18th seed Madison Keys who secured an impressive 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory over world No 3 Coco Gauff.

Get through that and a showdown with world No 1 Iga Swiatek likely awaits. The top seed was in devastating form on Monday, breezing past Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-0 to reach the quarter-finals. Swiatek will face Brazilian 11th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia for a place in the semi-finals.

Updated: April 29, 2024, 5:23 PM