Ons Jabur still can’t bring himself to watch last year’s Wimbledon final. Her loss to Jelena Rybakina on Center Court is still too raw, too depressing to offset the tactical value Jabur will extract from rescuing again.
Still, he said with a smile, “I can watch today’s game.”
In fact, it will be a great spectacle for Jabour, who was able to get revenge on No. 3-seeded Ryvakina 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-1 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals on Center Court. deaf.
The match didn’t bring her a trophy, but it was the catalyst for a rematch at Wimbledon. Her opponent this time was world number two Alina Sabalenka, who beat Jabour in straight sets in the quarterfinals two years ago. However, a lot has changed for both women since then.
On the other side of the draw, wildcard entrant Elina Svitolina will face unseeded but very talented Marketa Vondrosova for another chance in the final.
Svitolina and Jabour are clearly favorites of the Wimbledon crowd. The Tunisian native has been praised for his warm and charming personality and for his pioneering efforts as the first African and first Arabic-speaking player to reach a Grand Slam final. She also reached the US Open final late last summer.
Svitolina, who beat world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, has captivated fans around the world with her tireless efforts to support and play for her country Ukraine. A baby was born in October. Even Svitolina’s opponents can’t contain their admiration for the outspoken Svitolina. Although she only returned to the tour in April, she made it through the draw to reach the top four.
“She’s a superwoman,” said Bondrosova.
Both Jabur and Sabalenka represent the power side of the draw and, incidentally, most of the better grass-court players came after the draw. Last year’s champion Ryvakina said the winner of Thursday’s Sabalenka-Jabul duel would ultimately take home the trophy, and many would agree. Jabour revealed that he was one of them, showing candid confidence.
“We believe our part is stronger than the others,” said Jabbar. “But every Grand Slam final is a final, and a lot can change.”
It wasn’t an insult to Svitolina and Bondrosova, but players sometimes use the most harmless disdain to fuel their motives for anger. Former British player-turned-coach and caster Joe Dury says Martina Navratilova once dared to publicly declare in 1983, at the height of her career, that she had a chance to beat a great champion. Told.
Dury made comments after the Australian Open quarterfinals were stopped one set at a time due to rain.
“Martina was furious,” Dury said Wednesday. “The next day, she said to the press, ‘Why would JoJo say that?’ Everyone has an ego in this sport and one day you have to use it.”
Ms Dury said her words were slightly distorted in the next day’s reports. But sometimes the little things can be used to your advantage, and if she faces Jabour, Svitolina or Bondrosova could try to defend the honor of the draw before Saturday’s final.
As popular as Svitolina has become, Dury warned that Fondrosova, the least known player still alive in the draw, cannot be overlooked.
After becoming a French Open finalist in 2019, Vondrusova’s career was hampered by injuries. But as her well-rounded left-handed player, she can confuse her opponents with her serve and shots that range from soft and dangerous to overwhelming.
“Wow, she has talent,” Dury said.
So, will this be the stage that puts an end to Svitolina’s mesmerizing run? Or, if she wins, will she face Sabalenka, a Belarusian powerhouse whose nationality makes Svitolina something of an enemy?
Since Russia invaded Ukraine with Belarusian logistical support in 2022, Svitolina has helped raise funds for relief efforts in Ukraine and says she plays for her country in every game she plays. Declared. She also said she doesn’t shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players, even if they like her personally.
The issue surfaced in the fourth round when Svitolina beat Belarusian Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka and Svitolina had good personal chemistry, and Azarenka voiced her opposition when the invasion began. There was no handshake after the match, but Azarenka gave Svitolina a thumbs-up salute. But fans booed Azarenka from off the court, which surprised her. She accused Azarenka of snubbing her, and some apparently booed her for misleading her. Some probably did so because of Azarenka’s nationality.
After beating Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday, Sabalenka said: “I’m not sure what’s going on and why there’s no handshake between the Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian players. I think people need to know,” he said. “I really hope no one faces this kind of audience reaction,” she said.
More imminent, of course, is a matchup with Jabour in the Power semi-finals. Sabalenka understands that while Jabur is known for his slices, drop shots and off-speed game, he can also take him off the baseline if necessary. Sabalenka called Jabur’s bout “tricky”, noting that her opponent’s goal of becoming the first Arab and African woman to win a Grand Slam tournament motivates her.
But Jabur has another force driving her, similar to the one that drove her against Rivakina Wednesday. Jabour didn’t see the two match up last year, but she felt eerily similar once she got on the court. So, to change her situation, she sat in a chair opposite to the one she had been sitting in last year.
Likewise, she is now out to offset her quarter-final loss to Sabalenka here in 2021.
“I’m ready and ready to take revenge on what happened two years ago,” Jabour said with a smile.