TENNIS

Ons Jabeur reaches Wimbledon quarter-finals; Jelena Ostapenko upset by Tatjana Maria

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Third-seeded Ons Jabeur saved five set points in Sunday’s first-set tiebreaker before beating Elise Mertens 7-6(9), 6-4 to reach her second straight Wimbledon quarter-final.

Jabeur went 6-3 in the tiebreaker and then beat 24th-seeded Mertens in the final game of the second set when his opponent double-faulted on match point on the No. 1 court.

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“It’s my kind of thing to express my stress a bit during the game, do fun things with football or whatever it just helps me connect with the crowd,” Jabeur said of his ball skills, such as when she chased and swept away a long-lasting Mertens lob. “Being myself on the pitch is really, really important.”

She has improved to 9-0 this season on grass, including winning the Berlin Open last month.

Just over a year ago, she became the first Arab woman to win a singles title on the elite women’s tennis circuit when she lifted the trophy in Birmingham – also a grass-court tournament.

“I love playing on grass, I love the connection between nature and me, so hopefully it will continue that way for me and maybe until the final,” Jabeur said.

Shaking off the disappointment of a first round defeat at Roland Garros, Jabeur’s goals are “very high” at the All England Club.

“No matter who comes, I’m going to build the fight, I’m going to fight until the end because I really want the title,” Jabeur said.

Jabeur described her match, particularly the tiebreaker, as “stressful 10 out of 10”, but said she was doing better now.

“I breathe better. I express my feelings more before games. It helps me, for example, to really play the game I want to play,” she said.

Jabeur will face unseeded Marie Bouzkova, with both players trying to reach their first Grand Slam semi-final.

Tatjana Maria, meanwhile, pulled off another upset at Wimbledon to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 34 after beating 12th seed Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.

She will then face not another highly ranked opponent, but 22-year-old Jule Niemeier, who is making his All England Club debut, in an all-German showdown for a place in the semi-finals.

Heading into week two at Wimbledon, just two of the top 15 seeds remain in the women’s draw, which is down to one Grand Slam champion, Simona Halep.

“I always believed that at some point I can show what I can do,” said 103rd-seeded Maria, who ousted fourth seed Maria Sakkari in the third round. “I’m happy that today, I mean, I came in when I was depressed, so I’m proud of myself.

Halep is the last standing Grand Slam champion on the women’s side. The Romanian, seeded 16, won at Wimbledon in 2019 and at Roland Garros the previous year. She will face fourth seed Paula Badosa in the fourth round on Monday.

Niemeier, ranked 97th, advanced by beating Heather Watson 6-2, 6-4 on center court in only her second Grand Slam tournament. The German knocked out second seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round.

“I came here, I just wanted to win my first round after losing in Paris,” said Niemeier, who lost in the first round at Roland Garros. “Now being in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, I don’t know, I’m speechless. It doesn’t feel real. Yeah, I’m so happy.”

Bouzkova of the Czech Republic reached her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final beating France’s Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-2 on the midfielder’s traditional Sunday day off at the All England Club.

“There’s no reason not to continue. I have a bit of self-confidence right now,” said Bouzkova, who pulled out of Roland Garros after testing positive for COVID-19. the quarter-finals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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