Jabeur, historic, faces Sabalenka in a round of 16 full of surprises

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LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) – Ons Jabeur is setting new benchmarks for Arab women on tour this season and will look to continue her fairytale run at Wimbledon when she meets second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

Tunisia’s number 21 seed Jabeur returned after losing four straight games in the first set to defeat 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek in Monday’s final meeting.

She became the first Arab player, male or female, to reach the All England Club’s bottom eight since 1974. read more

After securing a historic victory for his country, Jabeur continued his celebrations with several fans waving the Tunisian flag on the sidelines.

“Tunisians are everywhere, I must say,” Jabeur said. “They were actually singing a football song. I felt the urge to sing along with them too. I hope there will be more of them for the next game.”

Tuesday’s match on center court will mark Jabeur’s second appearance in the Grand Slam quarter-finals after the 2020 Australian Open.

With just two of the top 12 players appearing in the last eight of the tournament, Jabeur sees no reason why she couldn’t win her first Grand Slam title this weekend.

“My goal is to break this quarter-final and be able to go to the semi-final and why not the final? I’m enjoying my time here at Wimbledon, I’m enjoying the grass a lot,” she added.

Sabalenka also finds herself in uncharted territory after reserving her place in the Grand Slam quarter-finals for the first time in her career.

After beating Elena Rybakina, Sabalenka was quick to congratulate Jabeur as each woman bid for their first major semi-final. The duo have split from two previous encounters.

“She has a good touch, a good serving game, she moves well,” said Sabalenka. “I also have good serve, I play aggressively. (I try) to use my touch as well.

“It’s going to be a big battle.”

POWER STRIKERS

Angelique Kerber, the only former champion in the women’s table, will face Czech Karolina Muchova in a powerful hitting battle on Court One.

Another Czech, Karolina Pliskova, will have confidence in ending Liudmila Samsonova’s 10 games unbeaten on grass to reach the quarterfinals.

Currently ranked world number 13 – outside the top 10 for the first time in nearly five years – Pliskova is hoping that a deep run at Wimbledon can breathe new life into her career.

The next step for Pliskova is another quarter-finalist who achieves a better career performance at Wimbledon.

Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic had never passed the third round of a major before this fortnight, but the world number 66 continued her impressive season by beating Madison Keys in the fourth round.

In a women’s draw full of surprises, world number one Ash Barty started off as the favorite and is still the player to beat at the end of the tournament.

The Australian has lost just one set in the first four rounds and will meet her compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic, 75th, for a place in the semi-finals.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bangalore; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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