Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in against Nastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on 19 Febuary 2017. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Marriage has brought in a fresh perception to life and tennis for Ons Jabeur, the Arab world’s best player.

The Tunisian tied the knot with Karim Kamoun on October 29, 2015 after dating for more than two years. While the past few months have been hectic to say the least, the 22-year-old former junior French Open champion in 2011, has been able to re-direct her attention to tennis as a sort of new-found challenge.

This has resulted in a few minor changes as Jabeur has taken aboard Nocolas Beuque as her coach and Fred Lefebvre as her fitness trainer. In addition, husband Karim — a top fencing champion with a Masters degree in Psychology — chips in with timely advice on the physical and mental side.

“Having good people around you really helps a lot in making progress,” Jabeur told Gulf News after coming through to the main draw in a fighting three-set win against Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open.

Much was expected from the 22-year-old Tunisian especially after her amazing run over two years during which time she made the juniors finals at Roland Garros. After a heart-break in 2010 when she went down to champion Elina Svitolina in straight sets, Jabeur claimed her first Grand Slam a year later with a hard-fought win over Puerto Rican Monica Puig.

Her highest ranking in the singles was No. 118 in March 2015 and a slip in form post-marriage now sees the Arab world’s top player perched at No. 189. However, Jabeur has had a busy start to 2017 with her pre-season being spent at an academy and in the mountains in Slovakia.

“My preparation for the season has been good with a strong team backing me. Last year I had no team, no coach and no fitness trainer. Now I have new staff and it’s been easy. Things are looking easy especially with a set of good people around you. Then the results come automatically,” Jabeur admitted.

“My husband is an athlete and he is in a position to help, whether mentally or in the physical aspects of the game. I am much fitter this year as I am practicing now and it is no secret,” she added.

“My first goal here was to qualify, and now that I have done this, I want to take things one match at a time. It’s been a pretty good start for me this year with Shenzhen [came through qualifying rounds and lost in second round of main draw] and Australian Open [lost in third round of qualifying]. Hopefully, I can continue like this or do even better,” she said.

“Two weeks ago, I was fairly good in Taipei [where she lost to Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals] and hopefully, the remainder of this week will be a very good one,” she added.