Aryna Sabalenka lost to Ons Jabeur in the semifinals of Wimbledon on Thursday. But in losing the match, she lost so much more. All Sabalenka needed to do to move to the top of the ATP rankings was beat Jabeur.
Instead, Sabalenka loss keeps Iga Swiatek at number 1. Plus, after the grass court season is over and the players move to hard courts, Swiatek is a master. This means Sabalenka chase to catch Swiatek is much more difficult moving forward.
But Ons Jabeur played beautiful tennis in defeating Sabalenka. Jabeur doesn’t need a huge serve to beat her opponents. Instead, she relies on great returns and consistently solid groundstrokes with depth. She also has a Carlos Alcaraz-type touch when it comes to drop shots. Players facing Jabeur know going into the match that it might be an extended one so sometimes not only do they get beat by Jabeur’s skill, but they also get beat by her fitness.
Ons Jabeur beats Aryna Sabalenka and moves to the finals at Wimbledon
Jabeur’s victory moves her into a finals match with Marketa Vondrouova who defeated Elina Svitolina earlier on Thursday. Vondrouova was brilliant for most of the match with powerful groundstrokes from both her forehand and backhand. But Vondrouova seemed to tire at the end of the match, or at least tighten up, and she can’t afford this against a player of Jabeur’s ability.
Jabeur was a finalist at Wimbledon in 2022 as well, plus the US Open. The bigger stage of a final won’t bother her as much at the beginning of the match as it might Vondrouova. But it’s worth paying attention to the end of the match, especially if Jabeur is ahead. She hasn’t yet won a Grand Slam and would be the first African woman to win a major title. She already is the first African woman to make a major final.
But Jabeur has been knocking on the door to a major for the last two years. She remained poised and calm throughout her 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3 victory over Sabalenka. She should be the favorite heading into the Wimbledon final as well.