The old me would have lost – Ons Jabeur ready to take the next step at Wimbledon

By Sports Desk July 13, 2023

Ons Jabeur believes her new-found patience helped propel her into another Wimbledon final.

The Tunisian sixth seed, last year’s runner-up, came from a set down to beat Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-3 on Centre Court.

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 Elena Rybakina in last year’s final, but believes she is a different player 12 months on.

“Maybe the old me would have lost that match today,” she said. “Probably 12 months ago, for sure. Maybe also a little bit before, like six months ago. It’s a different player.

“I’m working on myself like crazy. You have no idea what I’m doing. Every time there is something, I’m very tough with myself, try to improve everything. Very impatient sometimes, which is not good.

“Maybe my injuries slowed me down and teach me to be patient and accept what’s going on.”

A set and a break down, Jabeur came out fighting on the Sabalenka serve and it finally paid off.

“I was like, honestly, I’m not going to give a s***, I’m just going to go in and hit my return,” she added.

“Yeah, it was coming. I was returning much better. She missed some shots that did help me stay in the game. I was fighting every point. We just wait for a little bit of chance sometime to get the game, and that’s what happened.”

Sabalenka has reached four consecutive semi-finals but only won one of them, when she took the Australian Open title earlier this year.

“I didn’t play my best tennis today. It was just, like, a combo of everything. A little bit of nerves, a little bit of luck for her at some points,” she said.

“I mean, she just played really well. She played unbelievable tennis. In those key moments, she got a little bit more lucky, and I didn’t play the way I was supposed to play.”

Victory would have elevated Sabalenka above Iga Swiatek to become world number one.

“I wouldn’t say that I was thinking about that. I mean, for me it’s more about how you finish the year than during the year you’re first, second, you just go back and forth,” she added.

“For me it’s more about the finish to the year. I’ll keep pushing myself and do everything I can to finish this year as world number one.”

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