Ons Jabeur fights back from the brink to reach first Italian Open semi

WTA Tour
Ons Jabeur in action

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia had to mount a huge comeback to reach her first Italian Open semifinal, ousting fourth seeded Greek Maria Sakkari 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The Madrid Open champion went down 6-1, 5-2 before flipping the match on its head to claim her tenth straight win.

Jabeur said that she didn’t want to end an incredible couple of weeks with a whimper in Rome.

Jabeur was two points away from seeing her career-best winning streak come to a close at multiple points.

However, the Tunisian showed phenomenal grit to steer her way back from the brink to a victory in just over two hours of play.

Jabeur has maintained her position as the tour-level clay-court win leader this season, now moving up to 16 victories on the surface this term.

Along with the maiden WTA 1000 title she claimed in Madrid, Jabeur has also reached the final in Charleston and the Stuttgart quarterfinals.

In total, Jabeur has now also won 24 tour-level matches this season, which is second only to World No1 Iga Swiatek who has 33 wins to her name.

Jabeur has edged into a 2-1 lead in her career head-to-head record against Sakkari.

Jabeur won an ITF Challenger meeting in 2015, but Sakkari exacted revenge on the Tunisian at Ostrava in 2020.

Winning nearly 70 percent of her first-service points and converting six of her 12 break points ensured that Jabeur continues her incredible rise.

Jabeur made 11 more unforced errors than Sakkari, but also doubled Sakkari’s winner count by 28 to 14.

To her credit, Sakkari served brilliantly up front, staving off a handful of Jabeur passing winners on her way to claiming the opeing stanza.

The rising Greek star won 74 per cent of her service points and would fend off the only break point she faced in the opening set.

Sakkari surged to 5-2 in the second set and was edging closer to the win.

However, Jabeur clawed one break back when Sakkari served for the match at 5-2.

She would go on to break Sakkari’s serve with a drop volley winner for a second straight time, levelling the set at 5-5.

A magical forehand pass winner on Jabeur’s first set point at 6-5 gave the Tunisian a fifth straight game and the set.

Jabeur zoomed to a 5-1 lead in the third set with the momentum in her favour.

She would need only one match point to complete the tremendous comeback after Sakkari fired a service return wide.

“In my head at 5-2, I said, ‘You cannot finish those two weeks, those amazing almost three weeks, like this,'” Jabeur said afterward.

“That’s what got me started. I’m very happy that I could get the win at the end.

“It’s not easy to play Maria, no? I know she hits really hard. I couldn’t find my rhythm at the beginning. But I’m glad with a little bit experience that I have, I could pull off the win.”

Jabeur will face Daria Kasatkina in the last four in Rome after Jill Teichmann retired at 4-6, 2-3 down.