Jabeur reaches Wimbledon quarterfinals, where defending champion Rybakina awaits
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Ons Jabeur is getting another shot at Elena Rybakina, a year after losing to her in the Wimbledon final.
It's just the quarterfinals this time around, but the Tunisian player has to go through the defending champion to have a chance of winning her first Grand Slam tournament.
The sixth-seeded Jabeur routed two-time champion Petra Kvitova 6-0, 6-3 on Monday in the fourth round at the All England Club.
“I’m probably going for my revenge,” Jabeur said on court. “It was a difficult final last year. It’s going to bring a lot of memories.”
Jabeur has been a Grand Slam runner-up twice — both times last year. After losing to Rybakina in three sets at Wimbledon, she lost to Iga Swiatek in straight sets at the U.S. Open — falling just short of becoming the first African or Arab woman to win a major tennis tournament in the sport’s professional era.
Two things jump out to Jabeur when she thinks about the Wimbledon loss to Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan but was born in Russia.
“The fact that I was really exhausted like emotionally,” she began. “I wanted to keep pushing, but I felt little bit empty. Second thing, maybe what my coach kept telling me, to stick more to the plan, to do certain things, even though I was thinking something else in that match.”
The 28-year-old Jabeur hopes to “play more freely, just think about each point and not the results.”
Mission accomplished on Monday, when Jabeur felt free enough on Centre Court to execute a David Beckham-style — Jabeur is a fan of the England great — half-volley kick on a bouncing ball while up a set and 3-1.
The ninth-seeded Kvitova, who eliminated Jabeur in the first round at Wimbledon in 2019, dug herself a hole from the start, committing a double-fault and three unforced errors to hand Jabeur a service break in the first game.
Rybakina advanced Monday when Beatriz Haddad Maia retired from their match with a lower back injury with Rybakina leading 4-1.
“Now I’m feeling much better and more confident coming and playing on Centre Court,” Rybakina said. “It is different from the first round. I think it was just overall the atmosphere and the nerves to play the first match to get used to the grass, just to play some matches here. I think now mentally I’m much better. Physically also good now."
In other women's results, second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka reached the quarterfinals by beating No. 21 Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 6-0. The Australian Open champion will next face Madison Keys. The American, seeded No. 25, defeated 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
On Tuesday, top-ranked Iga Swiatek plays Elina Svitolina on Centre Court for a spot in the semifinals, and fourth-seeded Jessica Pegula faces Marketa Vondrousova in the day's other women's quarterfinal match.
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