As Thursday afternoon kicks off, the new mother from Ukraine will face a prospect of becoming the first woman from an Arab country to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Wimbledon women’s singles final, or the Belarusian in the match. had the potential to compete with It would be full of wartime tension.
In the end, Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) was out, but the dream of Ons Jabur, who scored an emotional come-from-behind victory over Alina Sabalenka (Belarus), was still alive. Sabalenka would have been world No. 1 with a win on her opponent’s center court, but instead the wily and athletic Tunisian Jabour 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6 showed off his skill and guts in the match. -3 wins.
Sabalenka dominated Jabour for a set and a half and came within two games of reaching the final and top of the rankings. However, they dropped the first set and closed the second set 4-2. Jabur found a way to control Sabalenka’s rocket serve, took advantage of an increasingly sharp opponent, and won 10 of her next 13 matches to qualify for Saturday’s final. Against an unexpected opponent, Marketa Vondrusova of the Czech Republic, she stopped Svitolina’s improbable run early in the day with a straight 6-3, 6-3.
“It’s a crazy match,” said Jabbar, a landmark figure for the Arab world. “One more game to go.”
In Vondrowsova, Javert faces an opponent from a seemingly meager background who tends to spoil sentimental narratives. At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Vondrosova eliminated national hero and international star Naomi Osaka, who lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony, en route to a silver medal.
Against Svitolina, she showcased all of the best skills that make up a versatile game. drop shot. and a hunger to move towards the net to score points at every opportunity. Being left-handed also helped. This forces her opponent to adapt to a different spin and switch the direction of her attack in an attempt to get the ball onto her backhand.
But when the tournament started two weeks ago, it’s fair to say that not many thought of Vondrosova as a potential finalist. A year ago at Wimbledon, she recovered from surgery on her wrist and wore a cast to watch her friend and doubles partner Miriam Korozieyova’s singles qualifying tournament before spending a week as a tourist in London. spent
Even more amazingly, the 24-year-old Vondrosova had never reached the second round at Wimbledon in four tries. She never wanted to be a grass-court player so much, but her game, which pops when she needs it but doesn’t rely on power, is a match for Jabour, who also made it to the finals last year. The game is surprisingly similar.
“I think in some ways we are the same,” Vondrusova said of Jabbar. “We’re playing drop shots. We’re playing slices.”
And now she’s playing Jabber.
When Wimbledon started, there was a lot of talk about the birth of a new big three in the women’s match: past four Grand Slam winners Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina and Iga Swiatek. All three are tall and strong, and often blow their opponents off the court.
But the last remaining were Fondrosova and Jabur, who beat Rybakina on Wednesday and then Sabalenka. Jabour came from behind Thursday’s match late in the second set, breaking Sabalenka’s much-needed serve twice. After tying at set point, Jabur hit a backhand down the line from Sabalenka’s second serve, finger to her ear as if the crowd was going to yell for her any more. I trotted to her chair. Then she grabbed her finger and shook it in the air as Sabalenka moved closer and closer to her.
Jabour, 28, was one step away from winning the tournament last year and received a heroic welcome at the airport when he returned to Tunisia. She ranks among the highest-ranked African or Arab players, male or female, in the history of tennis, and she has publicly said her Wimbledon title is her dream.
Last year, a photo of the women’s singles trophy became the background of her mobile phone display. She said there will be trophies on that screen again this year, though she hasn’t publicly said which ones.
Sports psychologists accept that Jabour may be focusing too much on the outcome rather than the process, and that while you never know what the day will bring, good things come from hard work and dedication. It may be argued that
Nicknamed Minister of Happiness, Jabour says seeing the trophy is effective for her because her almost always cheerful demeanor and optimistic outlook are unique in a time when many players struggle with mental health. said there is
“I want to know exactly what I want,” she said. “If you really want it, I know you can get it.”
She said that giving her all and playing with emotion and joy keeps her motivated.
“It’s a pressure thing, yes I understand that, but that’s what I really want,” she said of the trophy photo. “As long as I give everything I can, as long as I know where I’m going, I believe I can do it. I think it helps a lot.”
Perhaps the crowd will too. Fans have been by her side since her first moments on Thursday, especially against Sabalenka, where she, like other Russians and Belarusians, was banned from playing at Wimbledon last year for her country’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. rice field. Recently, as Sabalenka approaches the final, fears have grown that Kate, who traditionally awards trophies to singles winners, will be forced to present Sabalenka with the trophy.
Jabur saved the monarchy from its unpleasant ending. She thrashed four Grand Slam winners en route to the final, surviving one of the toughest draws and three-set matches of the tournament three times.
Now she’s looking to win another match against the man who beat her twice this year and claim the most important title in the sport.
“I’m going for revenge,” he said with a smile.
Vondrowsova is one of the most talented Czech players. Last month, Bondrosova’s friend Karolina Muchova, 26, fell two games short of winning the French Open. The country of 10.7 million has eight women in the top 50.
Bondrosova finished 7th in 42nd. She was world No. 1 as a junior and reached the French Open final in 2019, but she hasn’t reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal since. She may have been the longest among them to reach the final.
She beat two solid players early on, Veronika Kudermetova and Donna Vekic, who have found success on grass. After that, she thought she might be able to have some success, but still the final?
“It’s really crazy that this is happening,” she said. “But I think anything can happen in tennis.”