Ons Jabeur’s hopes of becoming the first African to lift the Rosewater Dish gathered momentum on Sunday as she edged out Belgian Elise Mertens 7-6(9) 6-4 in a topsy-turvy encounter to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the second year running.
The second-ranked Tunisian, the only seed left in the bottom half of the women’s draw, has been the form player over the opening week of the grasscourt championships as she reached the last eight without dropping a set.
Following the early exits of the two top seeds, Iga Swiatek and Anett Kontaveit, Jabeur knows she has a target on her back.
But the Tunisian said she would stop at nothing to ensure she lifts the most famous dish in women’s tennis come Saturday.
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“It’s never easy to play anyone during a Grand Slam. Especially with my position, everybody wants to grab the win,” she said.
“I have my goals very high for this tournament … no matter who’s coming, I’m going to build the fight, I’m going to fight till the end because I really want the title.”
Mertens was no pushover during Sunday’s contest as she twice came back from a break down in the first set and earned five set points during the marathon tiebreak.
But once Jabeur produced the firepower to wriggle out of trouble, she raised her game in the second set and wrapped up the win when Mertens surrendered with a double fault.
The 27-year-old will next meet 66th-ranked Czech challenger Marie Bouzkova as the Tunisian targets a place in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time.