Dubai: Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur is hoping her fresh approach will help her in achieving better results on the WTA now onwards.
Jabeur – now enjoying a career-high ranking at No.45 after her rare feat of becoming the first-ever Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter finals - has taken Tunisian Davis Cup player Essam Jalali as her coach on board along with US-based Moroccan Othmane Garma.
The changes have ushered in a significant change in her performance curve. Jabeur played in all four Grand Slam main draws for the first time in 2019, while also staying in the top-100 the entire year. Though she lost in the first three majors in 2019, Jabeur made it to the semi-finals at the Premier-level Eastbourne International where she upset home favourite and world No.19 Johanna Konta before withdrawing with an ankle injury.
Jabeur’s next big result came at the US Open where she defeated No.27 Caroline Garcia and then Aliaksandra Sasnovich before falling in three sets to world No.3, Karolina Pliskova in the third round. But the success helped her scale a career-high ranking of No.51.
But most of it, Jabeur feels, is mental. “I expect myself to play good since I proved myself so many times against good players. Just sometimes the mind is not in the right place,” Jabeur told media after defeating American Alison Riske on Monday.
“If I’m really good in my mind, I think I put a good motivation in my head, then it’s good and the results will be good. I learned a lot from last year definitely,” she added.
Jabeur’s big breakthrough came in January at the last Australian Open where she defeated Konta and Garcia in the first two rounds before battling former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets in the Polish girl’s last match of her career. Jabeur then defeated a fourth top-50 player in succession in Wang Qiang before going down to ultimate champion Sofia Kenin in the quarter-finals.
“In 2020, I have set big goals like I said before. I think even mentally I’m ready to play in the big fields,” she said.
“Being a tennis player is tough. Honestly, travelling a lot, a lot of sacrifices. Sometimes you have no motivation to play. You have to find the key. You have to find the right motivations to continue and be able to play good,” Jabeur continued.
Jabeur’s next opponent on Wednesday will be top seed and 2015 champion Simona Halep. “I was really pumped from the beginning to see the schedule, the draw and everything. This is the second time I’m going to play her,” Jabeur said.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a great match. She’s a great inspiration for many players and I’m lucky enough to play her. Hopefully now I’m setting up a new mentality for myself and hopefully I can go for the win,” she smiled.