Ons Jabeur
Ons Jabeur Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archive

Melbourne: A phone call from her president wasn’t enough to help Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur as she bowed out of the Australian Open after her historic run to the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Jabeur, the first Arab woman to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam, went down 6-4, 6-4 to the American Sofia Kenin.

Jabeur, 25, the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open, said: “I heard a lot from Tunisia, my phone is still going crazy right now.

“I actually talked to the president of Tunisia. He called me and wished me good luck, that was really nice of him.

“I talked to a lot of politicians in Tunisia. They called me also.

“Everyone is crazy. A lot of people are calling and wishing me good luck.”

Jabeur said her phone was still red-hot even after defeat.

“Still actually receiving really good messages that they are proud,” she said.

Asked if she had a message for Tunisian President Kais Saied and the country’s rulers, she said: “I don’t know, maybe lowering the tax would be a good idea.

“I don’t want to get into politics a lot because I’m probably not good at it.”

Kenin, meanwhile, kept her game neat and tidy to see off big-hitting Jabeur and reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.

The 21-year-old American arrived in Melbourne after a breakthrough 2019 season when she won all three of her WTA singles titles and came in to Tuesday’s clash at Rod Laver Arena with a 3-1 record against Jabeur.

Perhaps aware she did not have the power to match her opponent, Kenin instead focused on keeping her error count to a minimum.

Jabeur, the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, produced 20 more winners than her opponent but Kenin made up for that by maintaining the same gap in unforced errors.

“I’m super excited, it was a tough match,” said Kenin, whose previous best show at a Grand Slam was the fourth round at Roland Garros last year.

Kenin capitalised on Jabeur’s faulty groundstrokes to break early in the opening set but the Tunisian got back on serve at 3-3.

Unforced errors kept hurting Jabeur as Kenin got a second break in the next game but the Tunisian showed plenty of stomach for the fight, saving five set points over two games to keep the 14th seed waiting.