Jabeur to become first Arab player to crack top 10
October 15 2021 11:31 PM
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Ons Jabeur of Tunisia celebrates her victory against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in Indian Wells Mast
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia celebrates her victory against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in Indian Wells Masters quarter-final. (Getty Images/AFP)

Reuters/ Indian Wells

Ons Jabeur will become the first Arab player to crack the top 10 of the world rankings after reaching the Indian Wells semi-finals on Thursday and the Tunisian said she is just getting started.
Jabeur, currently ranked 14th, reached the final of the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic earlier this month and became the first Arab player to win a WTA title at the Birmingham Classic in June.
The 27-year-old defeated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 7-5 6-3 in Thursday’s quarter-final in the California desert, converting five of her 12 break-point chances on the way to her 48th match win of the season, the most of any player on the Tour this season. “Like this is a dream coming true. This is something that I’ve been wanting... when I was 16,” Jabeur said.
“Top 10 is the beginning. I know I deserve this place for a long time since I was playing well. But I want to prove that I deserve to be here.”
Jabeur, who will face Spain’s Paula Badosa in her first WTA 1000 semi-final, said she faced many obstacles in her career because of her background.
“I’ve been rejected by sponsors because of where I come from, which is so not fair,” she said. “I didn’t understand why before, I accepted it. I am really proud of the person I became today, just not relying on others.
“Everybody probably had a difficult career. I’m not saying I have the most difficult one.
“I didn’t want to depend on a sponsor or someone who doesn’t even care about tennis or sport in general. It gave me the courage to continue and achieve my goals, and I’m in top 10 today.”
The combined WTA and ATP Masters event is normally held in March, but returned this fall after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Jabeur has now beaten Kontaveit three out of the four times overall, including a victory in a tight match in Cincinnati this summer. Kontaveit, of Estonia, took that loss and used it as a learning experience, winning 16 of her next 17 matches including two titles in Cleveland and Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Jabeur got the first service break in the third game of their quarter-final to go up 2-1. She broke Kontaveit in the fifth and again in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead and a chance to serve out the first set. In the second set, the players stayed on serve until the seventh game when Jabeur broke to go up 4-3. Jabeur held serve and then broke Kontaveit again to win 6-3 and clinch the match on the main stadium court.
Kerber was the highest seed left in the draw after a string of upsets earlier in the week. Her exit leaves Jabeur as the highest seed left at No 12.
Badosa closed out her match with a nervy second set win after giving up a 5-2 lead. But she rallied to win the last two games and book a spot in the semis.
“This is amazing,” she said.
“I got super-nervous. She is a three time grand slam champion, so this means a lot to me.”



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