Ons Jabeur beats Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka to reach another Wimbledon final

By Sports Desk July 13, 2023

Ons Jabeur is through to a second consecutive Wimbledon final after coming from a set down to beat Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

The Tunisian sixth seed, last year’s runner-up, won 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-3 to the delight of the Centre Court crowd, and likely to the relief of the All England Club and Buckingham Palace.

Sabalenka, banned from Wimbledon last year over the role of Belarus in the war in Ukraine, was a point from going a set and 5-3 up.

But Jabeur’s rousing comeback spared Wimbledon chiefs the uncomfortable situation of the Princess of Wales handing a trophy to, and shaking hands with, a player from Russia’s allied nation Belarus in the women’s final.

Instead of a politically-charged clash between Sabalenka and Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, Centre Court will host Jabeur against Czech Marketa Vondrousova on Saturday.

Jabeur was devastated after losing to Elina Rybakina in last year’s final, but believes she is a different player 12 months on.

She said: “I’m working a lot with my mental coach who’s been helping me a lot and I might be writing a book about it.

“I’m very proud of me, the old me maybe would have lost that match but I’m glad I kept digging deep and finding the strength.

“I’m learning to transform bad energy into good energy. After the anger of the first set I just tried to stay focused. I’m accepting it, digging deep to go and win this match, and hopefully this tournament.”

Jabeur led the first-set tie-break but dumped a backhand into the net and then sent a forehand long as Sabalenka forged ahead.

She seemed set to capitulate at 2-2 in the second, slipping to 0-40 before a double fault put Sabalenka in control.

But Sabalenka tightened up horribly and a double-fault gave Jabeur break point which she converted for 4-4.

With the Centre Court crowd right behind her, Jabeur somehow saved a break point by staying in a ridiculous rally until Sabalenka smashed a forehand wide, and then levelled the match with an unstoppable return on to the baseline.

The 28-year-old piled the pressure on the Sabalenka serve and won a nerve-jangling game with a third break point to go 4-2 up in the decider.

Sabalenka saved two match points on serve but Jabeur finished the job behind her own with an ace before raising her arms in triumph.

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