WTA

Jabeur relying on mental fortitude against high flying Swiatek in Rome final

By Sports Desk May 14, 2022

Ons Jabeur believes clawing back a match point against Daria Kasatkina puts her in a strong place to push for glory against world number one Iga Swiatek.

Jabeur won for an 11th straight time as she defeated Kasatkina 6-4 1-6 7-5 in the semi-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia on Saturday.

Her victory sets up a final against Swiatek, who extended her winning streak to 27 matches by defeating Aryna Sabalenka.

Jabeur, who won in the Spanish capital last week, is aiming to become the third player to win the Madrid and Rome titles in a single year. Dinara Safina in 2009 and Serena Williams in 2013 are the others to have managed that feat.

However, it would all have been different had Kasatkina converted her match point in the deciding set.

"It means a lot to me, especially mentally, that I could come back from a match point and prove that I did that today," Jabeur said.

"Hopefully I can keep being stronger mentally, because I know [the final] is all about mental [strength].

"I knew that physically I could handle anything. Believing that I could play even four weeks in a row, I can do it. I am exhausted, yes, but it's part of my job.

"It's going to help me push more. There is only one match left. I gave it all from the first round, now I should really continue giving my best."

Swiatek found matters rather more comfortable against Sabalenka, who she beat 6-2 6-1. The 20-year-old is in the hunt for a fourth title of 2022.

"At these tournaments where we play day after day, we don't really get time to celebrate," she told reporters.

"Right after we finish the previous match, we have to think about the next one.

"It's pretty tough. But I know that after I'm going to be really proud of myself. For sure I'm going to have time to think about what I did.

"I'm just constantly surprising myself that I can do better and better. I feel like I actually can believe now that the sky's the limit. That's the fun part, for sure."

In the last 25 years, only Serena Williams in 2013, Kim Clijsters in 2003 and Martina Hingis in 1998 have reached the final in Rome with fewer games dropped than Swiatek this season (17).

Related items

  • Giron upsets top seed Evans to clinch spot in San Diego decider against local Nakashima Giron upsets top seed Evans to clinch spot in San Diego decider against local Nakashima

    Local hope Brandon Nakashima will take on Marcos Giron in the San Diego Open final after the latter shocked top seed Daniel Evans in Saturday's semi-finals.

    World number 58 Giron upset Evans 6-3 7-5 in one hour and 46 minutes, qualifying for his maiden ATP Tour final.

    San Diego native Nakashima progressed into the decider after getting past Australian Christopher O'Connell 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

    Nakashima's triumph means he is into his first tour-level final of the season and it has come in familiar territory.

    The fifth seed needed one hour and 50 minutes to beat O'Connell, who had the edge in the key statistics, including 8-7 aces, 34-31 winners and 13-16 unforced errors.

    But Nakashima came up big when it mattered, managing the only break of the match in the first set, before triumphing in a tiebreak.

    Giron produced the surprise result against world number 25 Evans, who was chasing his first-ever ATP Tour title.

    The American sent down 11 aces, while he also hit 40-25 winners. Evans was unable to convert any of the three break points he generated throughout the match.

  • Djokovic key to giving Europe big lead in Laver Cup on return to action Djokovic key to giving Europe big lead in Laver Cup on return to action

    Novak Djokovic played a vital role in Team Europe opening up a four-point lead in the Laver Cup as he won in singles and doubles upon his return to the ATP Tour after a three-month absence.

    Djokovic had not played since taking his grand slam count to 21 with the Wimbledon title in July, but he looked as if he had hardly been away as the Serbian beat Frances Tiafoe and then teamed up with Matteo Berrettini in the doubles.

    Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal at the US Open earlier this month and combined with Jack Sock on Friday to defeat the Spaniard again in what was Roger Federer's last ever match, but the American could not get to grips with Djokovic in Saturday's final singles contest.

    Djokovic's 6-1 6-3 win secured two points for Team Europe to put them out in front, and he was involved again in the last of the day's action as the team's advantage doubled to four points.

    Berrettini and Djokovic tussled with Sock and Alex de Minaur and ultimately had too much, winning 7-5 6-2 in less than an hour and a half.

    Earlier, Taylor Fritz's three-set triumph over Cameron Norrie put Team World briefly back on level terms.

    Fritz made a brutal start but ended up being forced to a match tie-break, eventually coming through with a 6-1 4-6 10-8 victory.

    That wiped out the two-point lead Berrettini had given Europe in the first match of the day, with the Italian edging Saturday's most gruelling tussle.

    He saw off Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (13-11) 4-6 10-7, and despite finding himself on court for over two hours, Berrettini was still sharp enough to emerge victorious alongside Djokovic.

  • South Africa believed but 'came up short' as Nienaber sees Rugby Championship hopes slip away South Africa believed but 'came up short' as Nienaber sees Rugby Championship hopes slip away

    South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber accepts his team have plenty of room for improvement with just under a year to go until their Rugby World Cup defence gets under way.

    The Springboks could only beat Argentina 38-21 in the final match of the Rugby Championship on Saturday, and that meant New Zealand took the trophy.

    South Africa required a try-scoring bonus point plus a winning margin of at least 39 points at Kings Park in Durban, but the Pumas would not be rolled over in such a manner.

    The daunting title target for the Boks had been set when the All Blacks posted a crushing 40-14 victory against Australia earlier in the day.

    Before their 2019 World Cup win, the Boks won a three-match Rugby Championship. The 2020 championship was cancelled due to the pandemic, but the All Blacks have now carried off the title in 2021 and 2022, this time around serving to ease some of the pressure on coach Ian Foster.

    It was tight this year, with New Zealand and South Africa both winning four of six games, but the All Blacks managed one more bonus point and a superior points difference.

    Nienaber is already looking forward to November away games against Ireland, France, Italy and England, as South Africa look to gather themselves for a big push into next year. The World Cup begins in September 2023 in France.

    "We are not there yet, we need to find consistency," Nienaber said. "In that regard, we will get a good idea where we are on the end-of-year tour.

    "We play the number one [Ireland] and number two [France] in the world in the first two games of the tour. So it will be a challenging tour for us."

    South Africa had not scored 39 points in a match, let alone won by that margin, since a 40-9 defeat of Georgia in July 2021.

    They last beat Argentina by such a hefty points margin in 2013, when posting a 73-13 landslide win, but the Pumas are far more competitive nowadays, as wins over Australia and New Zealand in this championship showed.

    Nienaber said his players still felt they could pull off the improbable against Argentina when they took to the field.

    "We saw it as a realistic target, we took on the task full on," Nienaber said, quoted by Supersport. "We needed to get a 39-point winning margin to win the trophy, and we all bought into it.

    "In the end we came up short, but you can never take a win in the Springbok jersey for granted, victory is always special. We are glad we came out on the right side of today's result, even if we didn't get what we needed to win the championship."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.