Jabeur claims biggest win of her career to make Dubai second round

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  • (Photo via Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)

    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.