Ons Jabeur defeats world number four at Miami Open tennis

“My dream is to see a lot more Arab players on tour playing well,” Jabeur told Olympic Channel. “And to be honest, I think it’s not impossible now.”

Monday 29/03/2021
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia plays Sofia Kenin during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 28, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AFP)
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia plays Sofia Kenin during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 28, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AFP)

TUNIS – After a great game early on Monday, Tunisian professional tennis player Ons Jabeur defeated US player and former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in three sets to progress to the Round of 16 at this year’s Miami Open.

Jabeur beat the world number four in three sets (6-4, 4-6, 6-4) to book herself a place in the next round where she will face Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The game lasted almost two hours and the first set went with serve but Jabeur crucially broke Kenin’s serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and then proceeded to serve out the set converting her first set point.

In the second set, Kenin fought back, racing into a 2-0 lead after Jabeur dropped serve in the second game. However, the 26-year-old immediately broke back to make it 2-1. The set went on with serve until Kenin broke Jabeur’s resistance in the 10th game to level the tie at one set apiece.

Kenin grabbed the momentum to the third set, forcing Jabeur to save two break points to stop the American taking a 2-0 lead. She, however, was unable to repeat her feat in the fourth game and fell 3-1 behind.

Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach a grand slam quarter-final at the 2020 Australian Open, then turned the game on its head by impressively breaking back immediately to make it 3-2.

In the ninth game, Kenin dropped serve to see Jabeur edge ahead 5-4 and the Tunisian then went on to convert her first match point in the next game to win the set 6-4 and claim the match.

The Tunisian player’s spirited performance saw her secure her first win against the American who she has met five times before.

Jabeur, who is from a small town in Tunisia’s coastal Monastir governorate, has been a fixture in the international women’s tennis scene for years. She began competing on the professional women’s circuit at age 14, and saw her career take off in 2017 when she broke into the main WTA top 100 rankings, qualifying for all 4 Grand Slam singles and winning multiple main-draw matches.

But it has been her break-out performances over the last couple of years that have made international headlines and built her an even bigger platform, which she has used to try and inspire athletes from Africa and the Arab world.

“My dream is to see a lot more Arab players on tour playing well,” Jabeur told Olympic Channel. “And to be honest, I think it’s not impossible now.”

“The young generation is much more motivated,” she added. “I can see back in Tunisia, I can see that there are a lot of young, talented players and I hope I can really inspire them.”