Ons Jabeur sadly snatches defeat from jaws of victory against Madison Keys

Jabeur blanked Keys in the first set, too.
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Ons Jabeur needed something like the Madrid Masters to happen. Entering the WTA 1000 event, she had gone 3-7 in 2024 and for the three-time Grand Slam finalist who had won two titles in each of the last two years a start of that kind simply would not do. Oddly, Jabeur's newfound success has happened without long-time coach Issam Jellali and instead with temporary replacement Fernando Verdasco.

Even if the coaching change is not permanent - Jellali is simply taking some time off - many times when a player is struggling it helps to have a new voice in one's ear. Whether coincidence or not, for the first time in 2024 Jabeur won multiple matches at one single event. This has to give her some semblance of confidence back and just in time for the French Open and Wimbledon. The last of which Jabeur is a two-time finalist.

The Tunisian also seemed much healthier after battling a fairly stubborn knee injury for most of the year. Possibly playing on clay instead of hard courts has helped, but either way, she is moving much better.

Ons Jabeur folds horribly against Madison Keys at the Madrid Masters

Jabeur's quarterfinal opponent at the Madrid Masters, Madison Keys, was not going to be easy, however. Oddly, the two players have only faced each other twice before with Jabeur winning twice. Keys has been in and out of form for several years but has always been a dangerous player.

In the first set, Jabeur whitewashed Keys 6-0 with Keys making a ton of unforced errors. Jabeur likely did not expect the match to be so easy, even after she broke Keys again early in the second set to lead 2-0. But Keys held and then got a break of Jabeur to even up the set. Keys' power began to overtake Jabeur's shot-making as the second set wore on and Keys got another break at 6-5 to take the set.

One of the reasons that Jabeur has not won a Grand Slam, even in the 2023 Wimbledon final where she was a heavy favorite against Marketa Vondrousova, is that the Tunisian seems to get mentally stuck and is not able to overcome herself mentally. Sadly, the match with Keys in Madrid wound up being a microcosm of Jabeur's previous issues. After jumping out to a huge lead and seemingly set to win easily, she folded horribly as Keys took the final set 6-1 and ended Jabeur's run at the Madrid Masters.

Now Ons Jabeur has to find herself once again before the stakes get higher at the French Open. She is an extremely likable player so hopefully, she will do so. However, her ever winning a Grand Slam and being able to handle the nerves of a final seems impossible.

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