A philosophical Ons Jabeur was still looking on the bright side after her quarter-final Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships defeat to Simona Halep on Thursday night.
The Arab No. 1 went down fighting 6-4, 6-3 to the Romanian former world No. 1 in Garhoud and departed the tournament pleased with her progress as she continues her journey back from injury and aiming to climb back up the rankings.
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“Physically I’m still trying to come back,” the Tunisian world No. 10 said after her match in front of a passionate crowd that cheered on her every shot. “It’s not easy to not be 100 per cent with Simona playing at this level. So I think the main key for me was physically I think I wasn’t quite strong enough as yet.
“I don’t like to lose like this, but it is my first tournament after injury, so I really am glad that I at least won two matches here.”
When asked by Gulf News if she would have settled for making it to the quarter-finals at the start of the week, Jabeur answered: “Absolutely. I would have taken the quarter-final of course. Honestly to not lie to you guys, when I started playing here, I came to Dubai and again I felt another injury for some reason from out of nowhere.
“So for me to even start this tournament, it was kind of difficult. But then we managed to practise — which wasn’t great for the first few days — we managed to get used to the balls. The fact that I played that way I did for the other two matches, is really good for me. I really keep positive mind here.”
Next up is Doha for the WTA Qatar Open next week, and Jabeur is confident she can take motivation from her progress in Dubai to continue her rehabilitation.
“For now, it is just a matter of playing more matches and being ready,’ she said. “I think physically it will take a lot of time. My main goal is really like to get back on court and kind of the same fitness that I had before.
“Obviously I need time. Those things doesn’t happen very quickly. But, yeah, I’m looking really forward to playing in Doha.”
Jabeur also took time out to praise her fans in Dubai, who were competing with Halep’s similarly patriotic and flag-waving Romanian following.
“It’s great support, for sure,” she said. “To have all the Tunisian fans always supporting me, it’s great to have them here. I know they wanted me to push more, like go further in this tournament. But that’s tennis and it’s tough. It’s always nice to hear them screaming and competing with the other crowd.
“I’m expecting a similar crowd in Doha. Yeah, hopefully I can at least play better there.”
Halep now faces Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals, after the Latvian defeated her third former Grand Slam champion of the tournament, Petra Kvitova, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6. She also beat Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek on her way to the quarters.
Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova overcame lucky loser Jil Teichmann of Switzerland to make the final four, eventually coming through 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours 23 minutes. She will face Czech qualifier Marketa Vondrousova, who continued her run with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska.
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE) 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (11/9)
Simona Halep (ROM) bt Ons Jabeur (TUN x8) 6-4, 6-3
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) bt Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) bt Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 7-5, 6-4