Wimbledon title favourite Ons Jabeur battles past Marie Bouzkova to reach the semi-finals as her bid to become the first Arab woman to lift the title remains on track… with her ‘great friend’ Tatjana Maria up next
- Ons Jabeur beat Marie Bouzkova over four sets to reach Wimbledon semi-finals
- The No 3 seed has been tipped as the favourite to lift the title at the tournament
- However, she was made to work by Bouzkova, and went on to lose the first set
- She then found her range, and will face her friend Tatjana Maria in the final four
Ons Jabeur declared that it will be ‘difficult’ to play a semi-final against one of her closest friends in tennis, as she remains on course to become the first African or Arab woman to lift the Wimbledon singles’ title.
The 27-year-old Tunisian’s semi will see her go up against the German Tatjana Maria, whom she described as her ‘barbecue buddy’ and ‘a great friend’ whose own arrival in the semi-final at the age of 34 should be a source of inspiration.
‘I wish players look up to her because she’s suffered to appear in a Grand Slam semi-final,’ Jabeur said of the mother-of-two. ‘Look at her now – she’s in a semi-final after having two babies.’
Ons Jabeur has reached the Wimbledon semi-finals after battling past Marie Bouzkova
Jabeur faced her own initial struggle to earn the right to face her friend.
It was with tone of a woman who had forgotten what it meant to lose that Jabeur said last week that ‘tennis is a tricky sport. You can lose every week, which is not fine.’
But having begun to look unbreakable, her quest was severely tested by Marie Bouzkova, the Czech Republic’s sixth best player, before she recovered to emerge triumphant.
Jabeur, tipped as the favourite, kept her bid to be the first Arab woman to win the title on track
The Tunisian’s drop shot, one of the defining characteristics of her game, was way out of kilter as she twice dropped serve in a first set which she lost against her young opponent.
A bold attempt to execute from just behind the baseline handed Bouzkova the first of those breaks, though it was the world No 66’s’ energy to retrieve from all over the court that clearly shook Jabeur. The world No 2 generally collects points from her drop shot as a matter of routine but Bouzkova turned them to her own advantage.
The No 3 seed’s game was riddled with errors, with a wildly misjudged second serve and a fluffed half volley at the net, with the court opening up for her, which gave Bouzkova the first set.
Jabeur was landing barely half of her fist serves and her game was riddled with unforced errors as Bouzkova, the world No 66, chased down relentlessly.
Bouzkova posed a stern test for the No 3 seed and took the first set before suffering defeat
The Czech couldn’t maintain the momentum or her high standard, with Jabeur recovering some of her touch in a second set she stormed. Her first serve consistency was better and there were fewer unforced errors.
Bouzkova was not going quietly.
A volley from a prone position on the court after she had slipped approaching the net in the deciding set’s second game preceded a rapid flurry of net exchanges which ended in her favour.
Jabeur found her range in the second set, however, and will face Tatjana Maria in the final four
But Jabeur, finding her range, made that break from a position of 40-0 in the 23-year-old’s favour, to make a giant step towards the final.
Demonstrating the kind of power that makes her a huge challenger, Jabeur traded of grounds strokes in away that saw her put Bouzkova into the back of the court to break again. Two netted shots gave the Czech a break back but the match was gone.
Jabeur said: ‘I knew she was going to really work to make me win a point. I’m really glad that I woke up in the second set and played better in the third.’