TENNIS: Grass acts: Ons Jabeur and Roger Federer make history at Wimbledon

5 months ago 24

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia celebrates winning her second-round match against Venus Williams of the US on day three of Wimbledon on 30 June. (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Jabeur is setting new benchmarks for Arab women on the tour this season and will look to continue her fairytale run at Wimbledon when she meets second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Jabeur, the Tunisian No 21 seed, came back from losing four games in a row in the opening set to overpower 2020 French Open champion Iga Świątek in Monday’s last-16 encounter.

She became the first Arab player, man or woman, to reach the last eight at the All England Club since 1974.

Having notched up a historic win for her country, Jabeur continued her celebrations with several fans waving the Tunisian flag on the sidelines.

“Tunisians are everywhere, I got to say,” Jabeur said. “They were singing actually a football song. I felt the need to sing with them also. I hope they come in more numbers for the next match.”

Tuesday’s contest on Centre Court will mark Jabeur’s second Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance following the 2020 Australian Open.

With only two of the top-12 ranked players featuring in the last eight of the tournament, Jabeur sees no reason she cannot win her maiden Grand Slam title this weekend.

“My goal is to break this quarterfinal and be able to go to the semi and why not the final? I’m enjoying my time here in Wimbledon, enjoying the grass a lot,” she added.

Sabalenka also finds herself in unfamiliar territory, having booked her place in a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in her career.

After taking down Elena Rybakina, Sabalenka was quick to praise Jabeur as each woman bids for their first major semifinal. The pair have split two previous meetings.

“She has good touch, good serving game, moving well,” Sabalenka said. “I also have a good serve, and play aggressive. [I’m] kind of trying to use my touch also.

“It’s going to be a great battle.”

Power hitters

Angelique Kerber, the only former champion left in the women’s draw, will take on Czech Karolina Muchova in a battle of powerful hitters on Court One.

Another Czech, Karolina Pliskova, will take confidence from ending Liudmila Samsonova’s 10-match unbeaten run on grass to reach the quarters.

Currently ranked world No 13 – outside the top 10 for the first time in nearly five years – Pliskova is hoping a deep run at Wimbledon can give a second wind to her career.

Up next for Pliskova is another quarterfinalist who is enjoying a career-best performance at Wimbledon.

Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic had never passed the third round of a major before this fortnight, but the world No 66 continued her impressive season by defeating Madison Keys in the fourth round.

In a women’s draw full of surprises, world No 1 Ash Barty started as the favourite and still remains the player to beat at the business end of the tournament.

The Australian has dropped just one set in the opening four rounds and will meet 75th-ranked compatriot Ajla Tomljanović for a place in the semifinals.

Roger Federer triumphs over Lorenzo Sonego in their fourth-round clash at Wimbledon on 5 July 2021. (Photo: AELTC/Simon Bruty – Pool/Getty Images)

Federer books last-eight place at the age of 39

Eight-time Wimbledon men’s champion Roger Federer weathered a first-set storm, by Italian opponent Lorenzo Sonego and the rain gods, to become the oldest man in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals, with a 7-5 6-4 6-2 win over the 23rd seed.

“It’s just amazing the difference an indoor and an outdoor situation can do,” Federer, who turns 40 next month, said after advancing to the last eight at the All England Club for a record-extending 18th time.

“It was tricky conditions and after the first set I felt I controlled the match better. I couldn’t be more excited to be in the quarters.”

Sonego is certainly no slouch on green turf, having won his first ATP title on the surface in Turkey two years ago, and he seemed to relish the challenge of facing the man who has no equal when it comes to grass-court tennis.

Maybe it was the gusting wind or Federer’s lack of match practice, after playing only a handful of tournaments in the past 18 months, but the sixth seed let break point after break point slip through his fingers in the opening set.

Even when a Sonego forehand error handed him a 4-3 lead, the Swiss could not hold on to it when he went to serve for the set at 5-4 up.

Plucky Italian

The plucky Italian earned a standing ovation when he conjured a show-stopping lob over a leaping Federer en route to breaking Wimbledon’s favourite son to love to draw level at 5-5.

Then followed the game that featured 20 points, seven deuces, a poor Federer lob that was smashed away by Sonego and some electrifying rat-a-tat exchanges at the net before rain rudely stopped the players in their stride.

When they returned to resume the game that had already dragged on for 12 minutes in actual court time, it took 15 seconds to see whose nerves had been shot to pieces.

That provided Federer with the spark he needed to motor through the rest of the contest after converting only two of the nine break points he had earned during the first set.

“When you’re me, with the year I had, it’s all question marks all over the place. You have to prove it again to yourself that you can actually do it,” said Federer, who had two knee surgeries in 2020.

“Now we’ll see how much more I’ve got left in the tank. Clearly it was important again to win in straight sets.”

In his record-extending 58th quarterfinal at a major, the 20-time Grand Slam champion will meet either Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, whose match will resume on Tuesday. Reuters/DM

Gallery


Read Entire Article