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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday October 1, 2021

Ons Jabeur’s eye-catching 2021 season is still on track.

The Tunisian standout, playing at a career-high ranking of 16 and destined to hit a new career-high in next week’s WTA rankings, earned her first career win over Elina Svitolina on Friday at the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic, 6-4, 6-2.

Tennis Express

It was Jabeur’s first win in four attempts against Svitolina, who is ranked 6th and was the top seed this week. It’s a victory whose importance is not lost on Jabeur.

Asked if her performance was a product of getting to know Svitolina’s game over the years or simply a manifestation of the confidence gained from a season that has seen Jabeur rack up 43 wins, including five against the Top-10, the Tunisian explained the process she has had to go through to become one of the world’s best.

"I think it's more the player I am today than before,” she said. “I'm glad that I'm learning from my losses against her or against any other player. The most important thing is the hard work through the years. I'm a different player right now, I have played a lot of matches I have much more experience and to manage the stress, to manage the fact that I have opportunities, it's amazing to see that it's paying off.”

27-year-old Jabeur is not one to take her achievements lightly. She was thrilled to finally crack Svitolina’s code on Friday, and she’s in a very good place in 2021, carrying a ton of confidence and belief in this her best season.

“It's never easy to play Elina, she's such a fighter, she never lets go, and I'm glad that from the first match point I finished it, because I know if could have been more complicated than that. Super proud with the progress that I'm doing, mentally, physically on the court and I hope I can continue this beautiful journey."

Jabeur will face No.5-seeded Elena Rybakina in semifinal action on Saturday at Chicago (Head-to-Head: 1-1). Facing elite competition has become a lot easier for Jabeur, particularly in these last two seasons. She has notched ten Top-20 wins since the start of 2020. For comparison’s sake, she had just five Top-20 wins to her name (against 12 losses) at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

These days not only is Jabeur having success in her head-to-head matchups with the WTA’s elite – she’s also starting to believe that she is one of those elite.

"I know I had the game to win against any player," she said. "So the consistency and to be able to play at that level against those amazing players is never easy, but the matches, the experience helps me a lot, and you know I see myself as one of the Top-10 players. I'm going there, I'm trying to reach this and I hope I can be able to prove myself."

Perhaps most important is the fact that Jabeur sees room for improvement. Couple that with her work ethic and you have a recipe for future success on tour.

"To be honest with you I know I have a lot of things to work on, I see myself as a Top-10 player but maybe right now nine, or eight," she said. "I feel like I have so much more to do and to work on to be in the Top-5, which is good news for me, and a lot of motivation and challenges to be there."

Muguruza and Vondrousova to Play Lower Half Semi

Garbiñe Muguruza topped first-time WTA quarterfinalist Mai Hontama, 6-3, 6-2 to set a semifinal with Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. 22-year-old Vondrousova topped American Daneille Collins 6-7(4), 6-0, 7-6(3) in the pair’s first meeting.

Muguruza took the pair’s only previous meeting, 6-1, 6-0, at Yarra Valley Classic in Australia earlier this season.


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