Jabeur Defeats Mertens To Reach Quarterfinals At Wimbledon
Jabeur defeats Mertens 7-6, 6-4 to reach quarterfinals at Wimbledon
Ons Jabeur continues to make history. She rose to a career-high ranking of #2 last week and is the highest-ranked Arab and African player in WTA and ATP rankings history.
With three career titles including her first at the Masters 1000 level in Madrid this past May, the twenty-seven-year-old has her sights set on her first grand slam title. Jabeur, clearly not allergic to grass, claimed her first title in Birmingham last season and two weeks ago, won the Berlin Open.
Standing in the way of her second consecutive quarterfinal at the Championships was former world #12, Elise Mertens, making her second appearance (2019) in the 4th round. The twenty-six-year-old from Belgium has an outstanding record at the slams, having reached the semis down under in 2018, the quarters twice (2019 & 2020) at the US Open and the 4th round twice (2018 & 2022) at the French Open. She is an aggressive baseliner but is extremely comfortable at the net having won three grand slam doubles titles including Wimbledon last year.
Mertens the 24th seed, served first, and though she opened with two consecutive aces, dumped serve when she netted a backhand. Jabeur missed 3/5 first serves and following two backhand errors, gave back the break.
Mertens made 9/10 first serves yet faced two deuce and two break points and dropped serve with another netted backhand. After three consecutive breaks, the world #2 held to 15 for 3-1 with an outstanding forehand down the line.
Mertens missed 3/6 first serves but finally held for 2-3 while Jabeur faced double break point after a netted volley but held for 4-2 when Mertens missed wide with the forehand. Mertens held easily to 15 for 3-4 but Jabeur, serving with new balls, donated five unforced errors to drop serve.
Mertens faced 15-30 following two backhand errors but held to 30 for 5-4 when her opponent netted the return. Jabeur leveled at 5-5 but it was not easy as Mertens defensive skills extended the rallies. The world #2 faced deuce but with a blistering backhand down the line and a well-struck serve up the tee, secured the game.
Mertens missed 3/6 first serves but held to 30 for 6-5 while Jabeur held at love for the first time to force the tiebreak. Both successfully employed the slice backhand, squash forehand, dropshot, and lob throughout this highly competitive first set.
Mertens reached set point at 6-3 with a brilliant backhand down the line but could not convert; she had four more opportunities to clinch the set, but Jabeur refused to yield. The #3 seed saved five set points and converted her second up 10-9 when Mertens whiffed an overhead.
Jabeur served first in the second and held to 30 for 1-0 with a forehand volley winner. Mertens made 6/6 first serves yet lost the game when she netted a forehand. Jabeur gave back the break following two backhand errors and two backhand winners from her opponent.
Mertens serving with new balls, struggled to consolidate as she committed multiple errors and faced five deuce points yet managed to hold behind spot serving and penetrating groundstrokes.
Jabeur continued to take risks, especially with the drop shot but faced a break point when she mistimed an overhead but with her fourth ace and a return error from Mertens, held for 3-2.
The Belgian executed the backhand slice drop shot to perfection as she held easily to 15 to level at 3-3. Jabeur struggled for parity following three unforced errors and two deuce points but held when Mertens missed wide with the backhand return.
Mertens held easily to 15 for 4-4 and Jabeur returned the favor to lead 5-4. Mertens serving to stay in the match gifted her opponent four unforced errors including her first double fault on match point. It was an unfortunate ending to a hard-hitting, entertaining match.
Ons Jabeur has reached the quarters at the All England Club for the second consecutive year. At the 2021 Championships, she lost to Aryna Sabalenka, then world #2. Jabeur will not meet the same fate this year since Sabalenka-along with 38 other players has been barred from competing because she is Belarusian.
(PA Images / Alamy / Alamy / Profimedia)
Jabeur played an exceptional match. She hit 5 aces, 0 double faults, and converted 4/7 break points. She won 67% of first and 52% of second serve points and hit 33 winners to 34 unforced errors. It was an exceedingly close match with just 5 points between them.
Her quarterfinal opponent is Marie Bouzkova from the Czech Republic. The twenty-three-year-old, thru to her first grand slam quarterfinal, is currently ranked #66 having reached a career-high ranking of #46 two years prior. Jabeur will need to minimize the unforced errors, especially off the drop shot and forehand when approaching the net if she hopes to prevail.
Bouzkova is supremely confident having defeated two seeded players - #7 Danielle Collins and #28 Alison Riske – and in the round of 16, the Bod Homburg Open champion, Caroline Garcia.
This will be their first tour-level meeting and the stakes could not be greater; the winner will be two wins away from a Wimbledon title.