They say the best thing you can do when you make a mistake is to learn from it and that is precisely what Ons Jabeur has done.
Earlier this month, the Tunisian held four match points against Elina Svitolina and served for the win twice in an attempt to reach the Taipei semi-finals. Instead, Jabeur lost and was left ruing her missed opportunities
On Sunday against world No23 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Jabeur made sure there was no repeat heartbreak as she sealed a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4 win over the Russian to claim the biggest victory of her career and reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Jabeur, ranked 172 in the world and making her Dubai main draw debut, was down 4-6 in the tiebreak in the opening set but bounced back to take the lead and held her nerve in the decider to achieve her very first top-25 win.
“I’m really excited. It’s been like a long day. I’m really really happy to win this match. It means a lot to me, especially when I was serving for the match, because I was thinking about the last match in Taipei and I was winning 5-3. I was like ‘come on, Ons, you have to win it, you have to. If you don’t win they’re going to kill you out there’,” said the 22-year-old after her win.
“It was a really good match. I had a lot of opportunities. She had good opportunities in the first set, which made me winning the first set quite special because I was meant to lose it. But then I came back. Now I have to focus on the next match and be more focused.”
In the second round, Jabeur is scheduled to take on Chinese world No76 Wang Qiang, who upset 34th-ranked Jelena Ostapenko in her opener on Sunday.
“I’m trying to get my best result at Premier event, so hopefully I’m going to continue this way and continue winning,” said Jabeur, who is the first Arab woman to reach the Dubai second round since Selima Sfar in 2006.
On claiming her best win to date, she added: “It’s amazing. I was more comfortable than her (Pavlyuchenkova) for sure. I was playing my game. She started really good, I was like ‘okay, No14 seed playing like this?’.
“But I know that I have this level. It’s not the first time for me to beat really good players, or play good players, or be dangerous for these players. I just have to believe in myself more. I know I can be in the top-20, I’m just missing some stuff. But I’m getting there, I know that.”
Jabeur, the 2011 French Open junior champion, admits it is easier to play against a higher-ranked opponent than against someone she is supposed to beat. But she’s trying to bring consistency to the way she plays against any opposition.
“I like to play top players, it’s amazing for me. I’ll play amazing and it’s less pressure for me,” she concedes.
“Now I changed a little bit, whether I’m playing 200, 400 or top-20, or top-100, it has to be the same thing. I have to keep the same level and that’s what will make me a better player and make me like the top-10 players. Because every time they play against any player they play good from the start.”
Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka is another player to enjoy a successful Dubai debut as she easily skipped past Taiwanese qualifier Chang Kai-Chen 6-2, 6-4 in 79 minutes.
“I’m really happy I was given the opportunity to play this tournament because last year I remember my ranking wasn’t so high so I couldn’t come here. I know this is a really big tournament, so to play here is a big deal for me,” said the 56th-ranked Osaka.
Roberta Vinci takes on Sport360’s Arabic language test ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
And it’s safe to say she’s got a pretty good grasp of the language.
The 34-year-old will take on Kristyna Pliskova of Czech Republic in the opening round of the competition on Sunday.
Do you think Vinci can go on to win this year’s tournament and what did you make of her Arabic?
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships women’s tournament has been hit once again by a slew of withdrawals with No6 seed Johanna Konta the latest to pull-out of the event.
Konta was set to make her Middle East debut this month but she pulled out of both Doha, citing a change in schedule, and Dubai with a foot injury. Her spot in the draw was taken by Barbora Strycova, the No9 seed.
“I’m really sorry to have to withdraw from Dubai,” Konta said in a statement. “I came here with every intention to play and I’m really sad I didn’t get to make my debut here, but health has to come first and it’s a long season. I’m really looking forward to coming back next year and for many years to come. It’s a wonderful venue and I’ve enjoyed my short amount of time here in Dubai.”
Defending champion Sara Errani, three-time runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova and Canadian fan favourite Eugenie Bouchard are also amongst a growing list of absentees.
Errani suffered a right adductor injury during Fed Cup last weekend and her withdrawal brings back nightmarish flashbacks for the organisers, who were tortured by a lengthy list of last-minute pullouts last year.
The fact that all eight seeds crashed out before the quarter-finals also didn’t help.
It drove tournament director Salah Tahlak of Dubai Duty Free to publicly slam the players of the WTA, saying they “lacked commitment”.
“Unfortunately, I’ve suffered a right adductor injury during my last match against Slovakia in Fed Cup.” Errani said in a statement.
“Dubai’s tournament has been crucial to my season since the beginning, as I tried to schedule every move in order to be 100 per cent ready to defend my title as champion. Accordingly to what doctors suggested, I will take the right time to recover before getting back on court, which I hope will be as soon as possible. Dubai, I’ll see you next year.”
Kuznetsova, a regular in Dubai and a losing finalist in 2004, 2008 and 2011, is missing the tournament for just a second time since she made her debut here in 2003.
The Russian two-time grand slam champion is struggling with an abdominal issue that also forced her to miss the Qatar Total Open in Doha this week.
Bouchard is also reportedly suffering from an abductor problem. She also appeared in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit launch party in New York City on Thursday.
2014 Dubai runner-up Alize Cornet, of France, is also not coming as she sustained a tear in her pectoral muscle.
List of no-shows
Simona Halep – Left knee
Johanna Konta – Foot
Svetlana Kuznetsova – Abdominal
Carla Suarez Navarro – Right shoulder
Timea Bacsinszky – Left thigh
Alize Cornet – Pectoral tear
Karin Knapp – Right knee
Eugenie Bouchard – Abdominal
Sara Errani – Right adductor
Monica Niculescu – Right knee