Ons Jabeur’s ‘season is just starting now’ after injury woes

Ons Jabeur talks to the media

Ons Jabeur is hoping to finally kick-start her 2023 tennis season following a disappointing opening few months to the campaign that was marred by injury and poor form.

The Tunisian started the year as the world No 2 behind Iga Swiatek and kicked off her season with a run to the semi-final of the Adelaide International. However, she was unable to replicate that at the Australian Open as she suffered a shock second-round exit.

Injury then forced her to miss the Middle East swing as she required minor surgery and she finally made her comeback at the Indian Wells Open last week, losing in the third round against Marketa Vondrousova.

Jabeur has since slipped to No 5 in the WTA Rankings, but she is hoping to kick on at this week’s Miami Open.

“It could have been worse for sure,” the 28-year-old, who faces Varvara Gracheva in the second round in Florida, said. “The tennis is there, I just need to gain back some of the things I was doing before. I also feel my tennis is getting better, just with the technical things that I’ve been working on with my coach.

“I feel like this season is just starting now. This is my January.”

She added: “We’re trying to do that, to listen to my body and not push too much. I also have a physio with me who can help me with stuff. Everybody plays with an injury. You just need to maintain a certain level to play good tennis and have a full schedule.”

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Jabeur finished runner-up to Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon last year while she also lost the US Open final against Iga Swiatek.

Rybakina, Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka – who won the Australian Open at the start of the year – have been the dominant players on the WTA Tour in recent months and Jabeur is hoping to not only draw inspiration from trio, but also challenge them during the remainder of the 2023 season.

“Elena won Wimbledon last year. Aryna struggled a bit last year but she regained her confidence. Iga is Iga. I think they have a very powerful game so that’s why it’s great to see them doing amazing,” she said.

“I think it’s great motivation for all of us. I know what great players they are and I think it’s fun to challenge them a bit. I have a completely different game from them so maybe it’s time that I make trouble for them a little bit.”