Trailblazer Ons Jabeur: ‘These are little steps to winning a Grand Slam final’

Ons Jabeur in action
Ons Jabeur celebrates during a tennis match

Top seed Ons Jabeur won her fifth WTA Tour championship, second in 2023, and first on hard courts with a 6-2, 6-1 victory against unseeded youngster Diana Shnaider in a 78-minute final at the Ningbo Open.

Following her third-round loss to Martina Trevisan in Guadalajara last week, the Tunisian, who is presently ranked eighth in the Race to the WTA Finals Cancun, accepted a last-minute wild card into the WTA 250 tournament.

Her win keeps her just ahead of Maria Sakkari in the race for the finals after the Greek’s semi-final exit in Tokyo.

Jabeur previously claimed the Charleston title on ‘green’ clay in April.

However, this was the Tunisian star’s first appearance in a final since her painful 6-4, 6-4 loss to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

Jabeur now counts championships on all three of the dominant surfaces on the tour among her five titles.

She won on grass in Birmingham in 2021 and Berlin in 2022), and on clay in Madrid in 2021, and Charleston.

Jabeur is focused on getting herself into a position where she can finally convert a run to a Grand Slam final with a a Major win.

“These are little steps to winning a Grand Slam final,” Jabeur said after the title win.

“Playing a final here is more relaxed than playing a Grand Slam final, but I think it will help me gain confidence more, and to help me manage the pressure and stress.

“I think [Shnaider] is a terrific player and she really gave me a hard time. I know the score is 2 and 1, but it was more difficult than you see it.

“She has a lot of potential — her game is really solid so I really expect to see her bothering other players,” Jabeur said.

“It was funny and cute that she shared the story of the Moscow final a few years back, where she first saw me playing. When I met her at the French Open this year, she told me about it.

“I felt more solid [than in previous matches], I felt tactically I played very well, I had an advantage in that I had more experience than her to manage certain points.”

Jabeur has lost three Grand Slam finals with defeats to Elena Rybakina and Vondrousova at Wimbledon and Iga Swiatek at the 2022 US Open.

Her biggest career win to date came at the WTA 1000 Madrid Open.

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