Tennis - Roland Garros - Ons Jabeur: "Win my first Grand Slam".

Tennis - Roland Garros - Ons Jabeur: "Win my first Grand Slam".

This Wednesday at Roland Garros, Ons Jabeur will be competing in the quarter-finals. At this stage of the competition for the first time in her career at the Parisian tournament, the Tunisian is aiming to reach the last four to continue her dream of winning her first Grand Slam, but also to repay her many fans for the support they send her at every match. To do that, she is counting on her physical fitness to finally return to form after an injury-plagued start to the season.

Ons Jabeur's qualification for the quarter-finals of the 2023 French Open could be summed up as the first anomaly to be rectified. By beating American Bernarda Pera on Monday, the Tunisian qualified for the first quarter-final in her history at Roland Garros. This means she has now reached at least the quarter-finals at every Grand Slam tournament. A first achievement for the current world number 7, who made no secret of her satisfaction. "It was the only Grand Slam that was missing. I'm very happy with my performance and the way I played, especially coming back from injury. I was just taking it one match at a time, trying to qualify for the second week. Now I'm going to push harder for the next few games. I'm hoping for better than a quarter-final here now," she told the press conference.

Ons Jabeur will be up against a tough opponent for a place in the semi-finals: Béatriz Haddad Maia. Currently 14th in the WTA rankings, the Brazilian has made a strong impression since the start of the tournament with the power she exudes. Jabeur describes her as "a very good clay-court player", but intends to focus on her game rather than her opponent. "As I did at the start of the tournament, I'll be concentrating 70% on myself and 30% on my opponent from a tactical point of view. You know, I'm expecting quarter-finals, quarter-finals and more quarter-finals. I'm going to try to draw on my experience to reach the semi-finals and maybe the title," she warns.

2-0 advantage over Haddad Maia

The Tunisian knows that she will start with the favourites and a slight psychological advantage over the Brazilian. The two players have met on two occasions on the circuit, and each time it was Ons Jabeur who came out on top, most recently on clay in Stuttgart in April. She intends to keep up the momentum from the start of the tournament and, above all, stay true to her game. "I'm much better than I was before, than I was in the first few matches. I'm not changing my game, because I'm trying to be the same, tactically speaking. If I have to play five forehand shots, then I try to hit the backhand, but I try to keep my identity on the court, because that's very important to me," she explains.

She will also be able to count on the support of the public, who should be more behind her thanks to the contingent of Tunisians present in the French capital. "There are a lot of Tunisians living in Paris because it's so close to Tunisia. But honestly, Tunisians are everywhere. In the United States, even in Australia, there were a few Tunisians in the crowd. I was happy to have the energy and support of the Tunisians. But it's not just them, it's the whole African continent. That's why I'm working so hard, even harder than before, to reach this level," she enthuses.

Removing the spectre of injury

Long hampered by injuries at the start of the season, culminating in knee surgery in February, Ons Jabeur now appears to be back to full fitness. After her premature elimination in the 2nd round of the Australian Open, a period of doubt and frustration set in. But the Tunisian has taken the opportunity to work on her mental game. "I've learned to accept things, whether they're good or bad," she confides. "For me, being injured was part of my journey. I worked a lot on my mental health and a lot on how to deal with it, because I think a lot of injuries are linked to our emotional management. I'm trying to manage that. It's still a long season, so hopefully there won't be any more injuries and I'll be able to continue on a good path."

After taking care of her injuries, Ons Jabeur heads for the first quarter-final of her career at Porte d'Auteuil. It's a challenge for the 28-year-old, who is chasing the goal she has set herself: "To win my first Grand Slam.

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