Wimbledon: Ons Jabeur meets Elena Rybakina in the final as he seeks to become the first African Grand Slam winner | tennis news

Elena Rybakina will face Ons Jabeur at Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon

Ons Jabeur takes on Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s Wimbledon women’s singles final, which means a new champion will be crowned this year at the All England Club.

Saturday’s showpiece should be a fascinating clash of styles between a flamboyant drop shot specialist in Jabeur and Rybakina, who has served the most aces on the WTA Tour this year.

Both players have already made history for their countries at this year’s tournament and look to do more by winning the biggest prize in women’s tennis.

A final of great international significance

World No. 2 Jabeur from Tunisia may become the first African and Arab player to win a Grand Slam tournament and makes no secret of her desire to inspire more people from her part of the world to grab a racket and believe they can play to tennis.

Nicknamed the ‘Minister of Happiness’ in her home country, Jabeur smiled as she spoke to the press after reaching her first Grand Slam final.

“I want to grow, inspire many more generations,” said Jabeur. “Tunisia is connected to the Arab world, it is connected to the African continent. The area, we want to see more players.

“It’s not like Europe or any other country. I want to see more players from my country, from the Middle East, from Africa. I think at certain points we didn’t believe enough that we can do it. Now I’m just trying to show that. Hopefully the people are getting inspired.”

Meanwhile, Rybakina became the first Kazakh player to qualify for a Grand Slam final, after changing her Russian nationality in 2018 as a teenager, when she defeated 2019 champion Simona Halep to qualify for Saturday’s final.

“I think it is very important because tennis is becoming even more popular in Kazakhstan,” Rybakina said. “We have so many tournaments there. I think it’s amazing that now on TV, on the news, you can see that I’m playing the final, and it’s the first time.”

“My biggest support is the president of the federation and also other people called through him, congratulate me on this result. I think everyone will see me and support me in the final.”

Whatever happens on Saturday, history is guaranteed to be made on Center Court.

Jabeur in form waiting for the biggest win

Jabeur enjoyed a great clay-court season overall, winning the biggest title of her career in Madrid and finishing as runner-up in Rome and Charleston, but that ended abruptly when Magda knocked her out of the French Open in the first round. Linette.

However, he returned to form on the pitch, winning in Berlin and has now won 11 straight before his first major final at the All England Club.

This year’s tournament has seen Jabeur overcome his slam woes in style. Prior to this last fortnight, the 27-year-old’s best result in a slam was her only quarter-final appearance here last year.

Ons Jabeur – Road to the final

First round Mirjam Björklund – 6-1 6-3
Second round Katarzyna Kawa – 6-4 6-0
third round Diana Parry – 6-2 6-3
fourth round Elise Mertens – 7-6 (11-9) 6-4
Quarter finals Maria Bouzkova – 3-6 6-1 6-1
Semifinal Tatjana Maria – 6-2 3-6 6-1

She believes the key to her success has been keeping the belief.

“Never give up and always believe you can do it,” Jabeur said. “And being surrounded by great people. I have a great team behind me. They always supported me, although sometimes, I’m not going to lie to you, maybe I thought that I would never make it or that I would never make it.” [win] a Grand Slam title or [make] a Grand Slam final.

“We work a lot with my team [for a breakthrough]. Of course, nobody expected it to be this week at Wimbledon. But this is something we work a lot on. Everyone on my team believed in me.”

Rybakina picks up the pace and looks for the biggest win

Rybakina’s career has been an on-and-off story at times, she was playing great tennis before coronavirus hit in 2020 and started well this year too, reaching the final in Adelaide before losing to then No.1 Ashleigh Barty.

A litany of injuries and illnesses have made it a season to forget for the most part, a quarter-final appearance at Indian Wells the only real thing to shout about and these past two weeks at Wimbledon.

But the 23-year-old, who has excelled on serve this season despite her general struggles, has seen her all-round game come together at exactly the right time, with an impressive run for the 17th seed culminating in a win over Simona Halep. .

Elena Rybakina – Road to the semi-finals

First round Coco Vandeweghe – 7-6 (7-2) 7-5
Second round Bianca Andreescu – 6-4 7-6 (-7-5)
third round Qinwen Zheng – 7-6 (7-4) 7-5
fourth round Petra Martic – 7-5 6-3
Quarter finals Ajla Tomljanovic – 4-6 6-2 6-3
Semifinal Simona Halep – 6-3 6-3

Rybakina has dropped just one set (against Ajla Tomljanovic) en route to becoming the first player from Kazakhstan, male or female, to qualify for a Grand Slam final.

“I didn’t expect to be here in the second week, especially in the final,” Rybakina said. “I think I have a game to go far in the Grand Slams. Of course, I believed that maybe one day I could win it.

“It was tough because I had injuries, I didn’t have a good preparation. I came a little more relaxed because I knew that I did not have a good preparation.

“Maybe this is something [which helped] to get through all these games. I can say that this is really the first time that I enjoy playing every day.”

Friends reunited for a fascinating clash of styles

Jabeur and Rybakina will meet for the fourth time on Saturday, with both players winning a three-set match each with the other being decided by default.

That was after Rybakina had to retire due to illness in Chicago last year in their third meeting.

A look back at day 11 of Wimbledon, where Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina reached a first Grand Slam final

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A look back at day 11 of Wimbledon, where Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina reached a first Grand Slam final

A look back at day 11 of Wimbledon, where Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina reached a first Grand Slam final

However, the Moscow-born star remembers Jabeur being kind to her early in their WTA Tour career and admits it’s nice to have reached this career milestone of a first Grand Slam final together.

“I met Ons for the first time, I think when we were playing WTA maybe 125K,” the World No.23 said. “I came for the first time with my dad and I met her. She was very kind to help me find the club because she had a car. I remember how I met Ons.

“What she’s already accomplished is happening right before my eyes. We’re going to go on this journey together. I think it’s amazing to think that you’re making history.”

Despite possessing a fairly slim frame, Rybakina possesses a tremendous amount of power, enough that she could dominate against arguably the best returner in the women’s game in Halep.

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His intimidating serve, coupled with flat and fast groundstrokes, is ideal on grass and the stats back it up. Rybakina has produced 49 aces in six matches and more than half of his first serves (51 per cent) have not come back into play.

“Rybakina is an aggressive player. If you give her a little time, she will take it away,” Jabeur said of her opponent. “She can play very well on the grass because [she’s] aggressive and changing the rhythm.

“She serves very well, so my main goal is to come back as [many] balls as she can, to make her really work hard to win the point. I know he can hit really hard and hit a lot of game winners.

“It’s going to be an interesting match, but I’ll try to make him work hard to earn his points.”

The way Jabeur will try to do that will be by using passes and drop shots and exhibiting the kind of tennis that draws ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ from the center court crowd.

To be fair, Rybakina’s serve did just that against Halep in her first appearance on the All England Club’s main court. Jabeur will try to overcome his power with his flair and his skillful return play. He has won 46 per cent of first serve return points (Ryabakina has 32 per cent) and 47 per cent of return games from him, well ahead of Rybakina’s 30 per cent.

“Yes, [they were] always tough matches against her,” Rybakina said. “[This is a] different surface, Ons is really playing [well]. She played [well[ last year. This year she had great results. For sure, it’s going to be very tough match.

“I know how Ons plays. She knows how I play. We know each other well. But I’m going to try to do my best, focus on my game, and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Jabeur is not intimidated by the power and insists she’ll continue to play the game her way.

“I know that my game could really bother her,” Jabeur said. “I really try to focus more on myself, do a lot of slices, try to really make her work hard. I know that type of player usually wins the point in two or three shots. For me, I’m just going to continue and do what I do on the court.”

What’s certain is that the Centre Court fans are in for a treat on Saturday as both women bid to win their maiden Grand Slam title.

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