WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Wimbledon tips for a fascinating quarter-final battle between Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka.
23:30 (AEST), Tue 6th Jul @ All England Club, Wimbledon
History: Played 2: Sabalenka 1 V Jabeur 1
Last meeting: Abu Dhabi Open, 2021 (R16): Sabalenka d Jabeur 6-2 6-4
Final Thoughts: Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka are both vying for a maiden Grand Slam semi-final berth. Tunisia’s Jabeur has played in one major quarter-final – losing to Sofia Kenin at last year’s Australian Open – while Belarusian young gun Sabalenka makes her first appearance in the last eight at a Slam.
It’s a breakout run many have predicted for the 22-year-old Sabalenka, the second seed at Wimbledon. She has won four WTA title since October, including defeating Ash Barty in the Madrid Masters final after losing to the world No.1 in the Stuttgart Open just weeks earlier.
After exiting in the third round of the French Open, Sabalenka lost in the first round of the German Open and the quarters of the Eastbourne International. But she has looked at home on the grass courts of the All England Club.
Sabalenka disposed Monica Niculescu and Maria Osorio Serrano in straight sets either side of a hard-fought win over Katie Boulter in which she came from a set down. She was pushed again in the third round by in-form 18th seed Elina Rybakina but came away with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory.
Giant-killing Jabeur on a roll
Currently ranked a career-high 24th, Jabeur has put away three Grand Slam winners on her way to the quarters. After an easy win over Rebecca Peterson, she downed Venus Williams 7-5 6-0.
The 26-year-old cranked it up a notch in the third round by coming from a set down to beat 11th seed and 2017 Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza. Jabeur then did the same to upset Iga Swiatek, powering to a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory.
The pair have met twice previously, picking up a victory each. Jabeur won last year’s French Open third-round clash in three sets. But Sabalenka hit back with a convincing straight-sets win in Abu Dhabi earlier this season.
It’s a contrast of styles. Sabalenka relies on a powerful ground game; Jabeur’s variety is her strength. In what promises to be a classic quarter-final, though, I’m expecting the more experienced underdog Jabeur’s composure to ultimately prove the difference.
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