Ons Jabeur survived heat, illness and a battling Alexandra Dulgheru to book herself a spot in the US Open main draw on Friday.
The Tunisian threw up on the court during her 63 76(4) win over Dulgheru and admits she was relieved to close out the match in two sets, unsure how things could have gone in the third.
This will be Jabeur’s third US Open main draw appearance, having lost in the first round on her Grand Slam debut in 2014 and she made the second round here last year.
“I think with the heat and everything it was kind of tough,” Jabeur said of how she was feeling on the court.
“It happened to me at the French Open (in May) and I saw the doctor after that in Tunisia but nothing was wrong. I hope it’s just the heat and the stress.
“I’m drinking water and I feel it’s all coming up. It was tough rallies and she was holding up pretty good and she made my mission more difficult. But I needed to be there, I was there when she broke me at the end, I had to get it back. I’m really happy with this win.”
The world No. 114 is here without her coach Bertrand Perret, who is suspended for three months “for breaching the sport’s anti-corruption code by attempting to change the doubles partner of his former client, Peng Shuai, after the sign-in deadline,” according to the Tennis Integrity Unit.
Peng Shuai was also suspended for three months.
The incident that was the subject of the TIU investigation happened at Wimbledon 2017 when Perret was coaching Peng Shuai.
The suspension however was announced this month and it means Jabeur will be without her coach until November.
In US Open qualifying, players were around to speak to their coaches on the sidelines during the changeovers. Jabeur did not have that luxury though.
“I’m not that kind of player that likes to speak to the coach mid-match, even in WTA events, I don’t usually call him, I just do because he wants to come to the court more than I want him to. I kind of forgot that he’s not here. It’s a good thing, it’s not in a bad way. I was really focused on playing and winning the matches that I forgot. He’s with me all the time because we’re texting,” she said.
“It’s a shame though that the trial was one year after the incident happened and it ended up affecting me and I had nothing to do with what happened. But I’ve got to say, he’s a very good coach. He puts work before money and it’s tough to find a coach like him. He’s very honest and I can’t wait to practice again with him in November.”
Jabeur is looking forward to the main draw and admits that the idea of potentially drawing Maria Sharapova, who has a qualifier in the first round, is intriguing.
She feels New York often brings out the best in her, and if her form from qualifying is anything to go by, Jabeur, who turns 24 on Tuesday, can feel good about her chances this tournament.
“It’s amazing [to qualify for my third US Open]. I think I played well every time, except one year when I came here a bit sick and I also threw up on the court, I clearly have a problem here,” she said with a laugh.
“I think it’s pretty good. I have a lot of American friends here, they come all the time to support me in the qualies. I like it here, maybe it’s Manhattan and everything.
“And my birthday is always here, so in case anyone is reading this, it’s on August 28 and I like everything. Bring presents. I’m happy I qualified so I can go to the gift shop they have a lot of presents there.”
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