Ons Jabeur ends Elena Rybakina’s reign to reach Wimbledon semi-finals again

By Sports Desk July 12, 2023

Ons Jabeur gained revenge with victory over defending champion Elena Rybakina in a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final.

The sixth seed, who also lost to Iga Swiatek in the US Open final last year, will take on second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last four after fighting from a set down to defeat Rybakina 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-1.

Jabeur missed a set point in the opening set but fought back impressively, hitting more winners and making fewer errors than her opponent, who has established a fledgling big three in the women’s game this season with Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek.

The Queen was among the interested watchers from the Royal Box as the pair took to Centre Court.

They had not faced each other since last year’s final, where Jabeur took the first set before Rybakina fought back to win in three.

While not giggling at umpire Kader Nouni’s deep voice, the crowd were again largely behind the likeable and flamboyant Jabeur, whose game and demeanour contrast so strikingly with stone-faced Rybakina.

It was the Kazakh who made the first move with a break to lead 3-1 but Jabeur hit back immediately, breaking back to love.

The hard, flat hitting and ferocious serve of Rybakina made it hard for Jabeur to bring her tricks into play too often but a lovely angled backhand pass put her 6-5 ahead.

Rybakina, who was beaten by Sabalenka in the Australian Open final, had not dropped serve since the first set of the tournament so to break twice in a set was a notable achievement for Jabeur.

However, the sixth seed was unable to serve out the set, seeing a set point go begging as Rybakina engineered a break back with a series of searing backhands.

Both players looked to be feeling the occasion but it was Rybakina who handled her nerves better in the tie-break, helped by her most potent weapon.

The Rybakina serve also got her out of a hole down 0-1 0-40 in the second set, Jabeur’s frustration obvious as the break points were snatched away.

But the defending champion was powerless to stop Jabeur when she applied pressure at 5-4, the Tunisian leaping to put away a simple volley before bouncing to her chair.

When a second successive break of serve followed to start the deciding set, the crowd began to sense the finish line.

Jabeur was playing better and better, coping brilliantly with the power of Rybakina and hitting plenty of her own winners, particularly down the line.

A second break of serve, clinched with a precision backhand, gave her the chance to claim victory, and a Rybakina forehand into the net sealed the deal.

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