Jabeur First Arab Woman To Win A WTA Title

Ons Jabeur (photo: @the_LTA/Twitter)

BIRMINGHAM/WASHINGTON, June 21, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur made history Sunday by winning the WTA 250-series Viking Classic Birmingham in Birmingham, England.

The World No. 24 Jabeur’s 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 35 Daria Kasatkina of Russia in an hour and 33 minutes on grass meant she became the first Arab woman and first Tunisian to win a WTA title.

Sunday’s title match was the second time Jabeur had faced Kasatkina in a final. The first time came in 2018 at Moscow, won by Kasatkina. Earlier this season, Jabeur lost in her only other WTA singles final, at the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston, S.C., to Astra Sharma of Australia. Meanwhile, Kasatkina came into Sunday’s final looking to gain her third title of the season to go with earlier triumphs at the Phillip Island Trophy in Melbourne and in St. Petersburg, Russia.

This time, the second seed Jabeur became the highest remaining seed early in the week after No. 1 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium was upset in the opening round. Round by round, Jabeur marched toward the title with wins over qualifier Caty McNally, Leylah Fernandez, Anastasia Potapova and Heather Watson. She dropped just one set during the tournament.

In the final, Jabeur hit 15 winners to 23 unforced errors, converted five of 10 break-point chances and outpointed Kasatkina 73-61. Kasatkina finished with 10 winners and committed 20 unforced errors. Jabeur’s 28th victory of the season ties her for first with World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.

During the trophy ceremony, Jabeur said: “I knew I had to go for it, I had to win this title to at least breathe, and give an example.

“There’s not a lot of Tunisian or Arabic players playing, so I hope this could inspire them, and I want to see more Arabic [players] and Tunisians playing with me on tour.”

Jabeur reflected on the previous title final she and Kasatkina played, at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow three years ago. “Last time we played was in Moscow, she won and I was crying. It was a great battle,” Jabeur said. “I told her, ‘Can you please share some titles with me, at least, let me win my first WTA?'” Jabeur’s comment drew a good chuckle among both competitors.

Later, Jabeur’s attempt to capture both singles and doubles titles in Birmingham came up short as she and Ellen Perez of Australia lost to Marie Bouzkova and Lucie Hradecka, both of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 2-6, 10-8.

The Czech duo won the final three points of the match tie-break to eke out the victory, which improved their win-loss record to 7-1. It was the 25th WTA doubles title for the 36-year-old Hradecka and the first WTA title in either singles or doubles for Bouzkova. Birmingham was their second tournament playing together after reaching the final of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C. In April. Birmingham represented the first collaboration between Jabeur and Perez.

Busy week before Wimbledon fortnight

The Wimbledon Championships begins Monday with the first round of the men’s singles qualifying draw. There are 128 players entered and the 16 who win three matches will advance to next week’s main draw. The women’s singles qualifying draw event begins Tuesday.

Top seed among the men is No. 112 Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, followed by No. 2 seed Mackenzie McDonald of the United States, ranked 114th; No. 3 seed Andrej Martin of Slovakia, ranked 115th; and No. 4 seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina, ranked 117th.

Also, No. 5 seed is Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan, ranked 116th; followed by No. 6 seed Denis Kudla of the United States, ranked 118th; No. 7 seed Arthur Rinderknech, ranked 119th; and No. 8 seed Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, ranked 120th.

Majchrzak will face No. 242 Yannick Madden of Germany in his first-round match. Play is spread over 16 different courts beginning at 11 a.m. British Summer Time.

Goffin out of Wimbledon


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What will Roger Federer wear during Wimbledon?

Well done, Alex Bolt!