Just a few weeks after making a historic run to the third round at the French Open, Ons Jabeur has qualified for her first Wimbledon main draw thanks to an impressive victory over Asia Muhammad at Roehampton on Friday.
The 22-year-old Tunisian became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam when she upset sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova at Roland Garros.
With her 6-4, 6-0 win over Muhammad in the final round of qualifying on Friday, Jabeur will become the first Arab woman to feature in a Wimbledon main draw since her compatriot Selima Sfar made the second round at the All England Club in 2005.
Jabeur had lost to Muhammad in Charleston qualifying a few months ago on clay, and had also lost in the final round of qualifying at two Slams this season, although she did make it into the Roland Garros main draw as a lucky loser.
The North African made sure she did not need to rely on luck this time around as she blasted through the qualifying draw in Roehampton without dropping a set.
“I played Asia before but I didn’t think about it much because it was on clay and today were on grass. I was more confident and I was relaxed. I tried to be focused during the whole match because I had lost a couple of qualifying third rounds at Grand Slams and this one I couldn’t miss it so I’m very happy with my performance,” Jabeur told Sport360.
“I think I played really good. I’m really happy to be in the main draw for the first time in Wimbledon. It’s been something I’ve been wanting for a long time and finally it happened. I think it happened in a good year, a year where I’m feeling confident and playing good tennis.
“So hopefully I will make a good impression at Wimbledon and go as far as I can, even better than the French Open.”
Jabeur will face No7 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round and the Russian two-time Grand Slam champion is quite familiar with the youngster’s game.
“I saw her play quite a bit. She plays a very different game, she mixes up the style, she feels the ball really well, she’s not a great mover… She hasn’t been doing so well but when she’s on, she’s really tough. She plays a very interesting game, different than other girls,” Kuznetsova had said of Jabeur after the Tunisian beat Cibulkova in Paris.
The men’s draw revealed plenty of mouth-watering first rounds at Wimbledon, which means grounds pass holders can expect some fun match-ups on the outside courts.
Here are our picks for opening matches to watch at the All England Club…
Juan Martin del Potro v Thanasi Kokkinakis
Del Potro against Kokkinakis is not to be missed especially with the back story each one of them has. They’re both players who have had their careers derailed by unrelenting injuries and are real fan favourites.
Bernard Tomic v Mischa Zverev
Both love their grass courts but have different styles on the surface with Zverev a classic serve-and-volleyer and Tomic more proficient from the baseline. A match with lots of entertainment potential.
Andy Murray v Alexander Bublik
Bublik is a young up-and-comer showing lots of promise and despite the gulf in experience, this can make for a fun match-up and it will be interesting to see how the 20-year-old will fare on Wimbledon Centre Court against the defending champion in just his second Grand Slam main draw.
Lucas Pouille v Malek Jaziri
Both are crafty players who can produce some beautiful tennis on grass. Pouille, a quarter-finalist here last year, is the favourite but first round jitters can make it a closer affair than expected.
Fernando Verdasco v Kevin Anderson
Verdasco has done well this year to get back into a seeding position for the Slams and he started his French Open last month by upsetting Alexander Zverev in the first round. Anderson almost beat Djokovic here a couple of years ago and is also back fit and healthy. The South African’s huge serve will cause trouble for Verdasco, a quarter-finalist here in 2013.
Marin Cilic v Philipp Kohlschreiber
An unfortunate opener for the seventh-seeded Cilic who is 3-6 head-to-head against the German. Kohlschreiber is always the unseeded opponent everyone tries to avoid in the first round at a Slam, especially at Wimbledon. Cilic is in-form but Kohlschreiber will have confidence considering he won their last two meetings.
Richard Gasquet v David Ferrer
The draw gods did not have mercy on a plummeting Ferrer, who has won just eight matches this season. Now down to No39 in the world, the Spaniard is unseeded and has drawn two-time semi-finalist Gasquet in the first round. Ferrer may be out-of-form but still Gasquet will not be too pleased with this match especially with his 3-9 head-to-head record against Ferrer.
LONDON — The Wimbledon draw ceremony took place on Friday morning at the main interview room at the All England Club and it saw defending champion Andy Murray land in the same half as French Open champion Rafael Nadal, with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic sharing the bottom half.
Murray begins his title defence by opening the action on Centre Court on Monday against lucky loser Alexander Bublik, with the bottom half of the draw playing on Tuesday.
Federer is considered by many as the favourite for a record-extending eighth Wimbledon crown but the 35-year-old Swiss, who won a ninth Halle title last week must overcome some difficult opponents this fortnight, the draw revealed.
Here are three things we learned from the men’s draw…
For the fifth time since last August, Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic have been drawn to cross paths early in a tournament. It started at the Rio Olympics last summer, where the Argentine upset Djokovic in the first round, and it’s happened three more times since, in Acapulco (Djokovic won in three), Indian Wells (Djokovic won in three) and Rome (Djokovic won in two).
Add to that the face that Del Potro got Murray in the third round at Roland Garros and Federer in the third round in Miami, it feels the tennis tour’s favourite comeback kid just can’t catch a break.
The former top-five player, now ranked No32, spoke about his draw situation after losing to Murray in Paris earlier this month.
“I’m not having lucky with the draws, but if I want to change that, I need to improve my ranking, is the only solutions to get better draws,” said Del Potro, who is seeded No29 at Wimbledon.
If you think a potential early showdown between Del Potro and Djokovic is cruel, how about the fact that the ‘Tower of Tandil’ faces another fan favourite on the comeback trail, Thanasi Kokkinakis, in the first round.
Yes, tennis is cruel like that sometimes.
The internet has reacted quite dramatically to both Djokovic and Federer’s respective draws. Here’s how the potential paths of the top four seeds compare:
For Federer, opening against a tricky opponent like Dolgopolov is not the best of hands to be dealt but let’s face it, the Ukrainian is now ranked 84 in the world, has won just five matches in total in his last nine Grand Slams, and has never taken a set off of Federer in any of their three previous meetings. He should not be a problem for the Swiss.
Things will get tougher for Federer from the third round onwards though if he does make it there. The seven-time Wimbledon champion might have to navigate past both Zverev brothers as well as former semi-finalist Dimitrov, or last year’s runner-up Milos Raonic. If Federer wants to win a 19th major and an eighth Wimbledon, he’ll have to do it the hard way. The good news is, his brutal Australian Open draw did not stop him from winning the title there, so no matter the path, the Swiss’ chances are always there.
As for Djokovic, an opener against Slovakian lefty Klizan, who has tested many a top player in early rounds at the Slams in the past, is far from the easiest way to start a Slam. A possible meeting with Del Potro in the third round is however worse news for the Argentine than for Djokovic, who has won their last three matches. Lopez just won Queen’s and is always a threat on grass, so that potential fourth round against Djokovic could be a tough obstacle for the Serb.
Murray’s first test could come against the 20th-seeded Kyrgios but the Aussie has never beaten the defending champion and has had fitness issues in the past several weeks.
Meanwhile, Khachanov stands out as the main difficult hurdle for Nadal early on. Nadal has lost in the first or second round in three of his last four appearances at Wimbledon and is appearing here for the first time in two years. His is however a two-time champion and three-time runner-up at the All England Club.
Juan Martin del Potro v Thanasi Kokkinakis, Richard Gasquet v David Ferrer, Marin Cilic v Philipp Kohlschreiber, Mischa Zverev v Bernard Tomic, Andy Murray v Alexander Bublik… these are just some of a slew of mouth-watering first rounds in the men’s draw not to be missed.