Ons Jabeur makes top-100 debut, here are Arab tennis players who have ranked as high

Ons Jabeur made her top-100 debut this week. Here are other Arab tennis players who have ranked as high.

Reem Abulleil
by Reem Abulleil
2nd August 2017

article:2nd August 2017

New milestone: For Ons Jabeur.
New milestone: For Ons Jabeur.

Tunisian Ons Jabeur made history this week as she became just the second Arab woman, and first in 15 years, to enter the world’s top-100.

She joins an elite club of Arab tennis players to have reached such heights in the sport. The 22-year-old is enjoying a strong 2017 season, where she claimed her first top-10 win (over Dominika Cibulkova at Roland Garros), and became the first Arab woman to make a Grand Slam third round in Paris earlier this summer.

She also became the first Arab woman since 2005 to feature in a Wimbledon main draw, when she made it through the qualifying rounds in June.

  • WATCH: Ons Jabeur reacts to her historic win over Cibulkova

Jabeur, a former Roland Garros junior champion, will gain direct entry into a Slam for the first time this month at the US Open.

On the heels of Jabeur’s historic achievement, here’s a look at other Arabs who have ranked in the top-100…

Ismail El Shafei (Egypt)

The Egyptian lefty ranked as high as No34 in the world in 1975. He won the Wimbledon junior title in 1964 and his most famous accomplishment was making the quarter-finals in men’s singles at the All England Club in 1974, beating Bjorn Borg en route. He reached the fourth round at the US Open that same year.

Younes El Aynaoui (Morocco)

His career-high ranking of No14 in the world, reached in 2003, makes him the highest-ranked Arab tennis player in history. The leader of the Moroccan tennis trio that broke through in the 1990s, El Aynaoui was famous for his five-set epic match with Andy Roddick at the Australian Open in 2003, that ended 21-19 in the decider in the American’s favour.

The 193cm El Aynaoui cracked the top-100 for the first time in 1993. He played his last ATP tournament as a 38-year-old in 2010 in Doha, where he won his first round to become the oldest player to win an ATP match since Jimmy Connors in 1995 (a record since broken by Radek Stepanek).

El Aynaoui reached four Grand Slam quarter-finals throughout his career, won five ATP titles and made 11 more finals. He claimed 16 victories over top-10 opponents.

He currently works for the Qatar Tennis Federation, coaching the national team, and at 45 years of age, played a $15k ITF tournament in Bahrain last March, where he won his first round, outlasting some of the players he coaches in the tournament.

Karim Alami (Morocco)

The Moroccan broke into the top-100 for the first time in May 1994 and peaked at 25 in the world in February 2000. Alami won two ATP titles, in Palermo and Atlanta, both in 1996, made four more finals, and reached the quarter-finals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, where he lost to Roger Federer.

Alami beat a No1-ranked Pete Sampras in Doha in 1994 when he was just 205 in the world and claimed eight more top-10 victories throughout his career. His best Grand Slam appearances came at the French and Australian Opens where he reached the third round three times in total. Alami is now the tournament director of the Qatar Open.

Hicham Arazi (Morocco)

Arazi peaked at No22 in the world in 2001 and cracked the top-100 for the first time in June 1996. He won one ATP title, in Casablanca in 1997, and reached the Monte Carlo (Masters Series) final in 2001. The Moroccan lefty made four Grand Slam quarter-finals (two in Melbourne, two in Paris) and retired from the sport in 2007. He claimed 16 victories against top-10 opposition throughout his career.

Selima Sfar (Tunisia)

Up until last week, Sfar was the only Arab woman to rank in the top-100, before Jabeur joined her in that exclusive club. The Tunisian, who now works as a commentator for beIN Sports, broke barriers for Arab women in the sport and left her home country at the tender age of 13 to train in Biarritz, France.

She peaked at 75 in the world rankings in July 2001 and made the second round at three of the four Grand Slams. She represented Tunisia at two Olympic Games, in Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008, and reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in doubles in 2008.

Malek Jaziri (Tunisia)

The 33-year-old is considered a late bloomer and he only cracked the top-100 for the first time in 2012, at the age of 28. He made his top-50 debut last October and is currently a regular fixture in the world’s top-100. His career-high ranking is 47. Jaziri has reached the third round of the Australian Open twice, in 2015 and 2017, and has made the second round and all three other Grand Slams.

He represented Tunisia at the London 2012 Olympics and has been on their Davis Cup team since 2000. Jaziri owns six Challenger titles, and has reached two ATP semi-finals.