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By Erik Gudris | @atntennis | Wednesday, July 12, 2023


Ons Jabeur celebrated her stunning win over defending champion Elena Rybakina to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.

In last year’s Wimbledon final, Ons Jabeur didn’t feel like she executed her game plan against Elena Rybakina. This year, she did so with stylish perfection.

The No. 6 seed Jabeur played some of the best tennis of her career to upset the No. 3 seed and defending Wimbledon champion to reach the semifinals 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1.

Tennis Express

The 28-year-old Tunisian star produced a highlight reel of incredible shotmaking from all sides of the court to earn a satisfying victory after last year’s heartbreaking loss to Rybakina in the singles final.

Jabeur will next face No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, who took out American Madison Keys earlier on Wednesday, in her bid to return to the final.

"I'm very happy with the performance," Jabeur in her on-court interview afterward. "A lot of emotion out there, especially playing someone that serves really well. It's frustrating to return. I'm glad that I did everything, shouted, got angry, then got calm and focused.

"I tried to hit every shot."

Jabeur used every shot in the book to keep in touch and eventually defeat the 23-year-old Rybakina, whose powerful groundstrokes and thundering serves nearly helped her overcome her opponent.

The back and forth contest started that way in the opening set when both women traded service breaks. While Rybakina’s powerful shots were expected, Jabeur matched that power with her own and stayed in touch by winning a high percentage of first-serve points.

With both level at 5-all in the opener, Jabeur first came up with several incredible scrambling gets from the baseline to eventually win the first point. That put in motion her ability to get the first break for 6-5 as she connected on a perfect backhand passing shot.

Yet Rybakina didn’t blink and soon broke back for a tiebreak with her trademark strong hitting from the baseline.

Earning a quick mini break, Rybakina extended her lead in the tiebreak with more trademark huge serving and then a swing volley winner to go ahead 6-3.

Though a visibly frustrated Jabeur managed to pull within a point, Rybakina banged down another big serve to clinch the tight set 7-6(5).

If the Centre Court crowd thought that Jabeur might suffer a letdown, they were proved wrong in the second set.

Jabeur continued to maintain her high level from the earlier set. She had to keep up with Rybakina who often got out of trouble in her service games with a stellar serve. Jabeur replied in kind with pinpoint serving of her own, including firing down an ace to hold later for 5-4.

In the 12th game of the middle set, Jabeur made her move. With a series of potent forehand winners, she soon found herself at a set point. With an electric backhand winner, Jabeur took it 6-4 and forced a decisive third set.

If the fans thought that Jabeur, who hit 14 winners and only three unforced errors in the second set, couldn’t play any better, she proved them wrong again.

In the second game of the decider, Jabeur dealt the decisive blow when she broke Ryabkina at love for 2-0 with incredible shotmaking and help from a flurry of backhand errors from the Kazakhstan star. Now it was Rybakina’s turn to look agitated as Jabeur soon held for a 3-0 advantage.

Rybakina managed to hold for 1-3 and put the pressure back on Jabeur. In a pivotal game, Jabeur somehow find the edge of the lines when she needed them when she was behind 15-40 on her serve. Battling back to deuce with one forehand winner that clipped the edge of the line, followed by an ace line clipping ace to hold for 4-1.

Jabeur soared ahead with more stunning shotmaking including an incredible backhand winner for another break and to push ahead 5-1.

Jabeur then wasted no time in closing out the match. Quickly getting to match point while serving for the victory, she forced one more error from Rybakina to close out the satisfying three set victory to place herself back into the semifinals.

On the whole, Jabeur hit a staggering 35 winners and only 18 unforced errors while Rybakina had 21 winners and 20 errors.

Jabeur won’t have much time to savor this victory as she faces SabaIenka tomorrow.

“I saw she won very quick, which I wasn't happy with," Jabeur said with a laugh about facing the Australian Open champion Sabalenka. "She's an amazing player, very fast like Elena. She's someone that's been playing amazing this year."


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