Dubai: Ons Jabeur, the Arab world’s best tennis player left with a lot of positives to ponder despite her loss in three sets against former world No. 1 Simona Halep.
Jabeur, who was a match point away from scripting one of her biggest wins on the WTA at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships late on Wednesday, was left with plenty of time to reflect on what could have been this week.
“The only thing going to replay in my head is match point. Should have been more patient,” Jabeur said.
“But then, the stress and everything, it wasn’t really easy. Yeah, it’s going to hurt for a few days, that’s for sure.”
The night belonged to the underdog Jabeur. Playing some effortless tennis, the 25-year-old Tunisian powered her way to a 6-1 win in the first set that lasted just 25 minutes. Halep asserted and came back to draw level with 6-2 in the second set and then led 3-0 and then 4-1 in the decider.
But Jabeur fought her way in and forced a tie-break. Once again, Halep looked to be in the clear only to see the gutsy Tunisian fight back from 4-5 to stand one match point away from a famous victory at 6-5. Ultimately, Halep’s superior experience paid off as the Romanian won the next four points and dig herself out into the quarter-final.
“Honestly, it’s crazy match. I don’t think I played really well. I don’t think she played really well. It was kind of a lot of changing of momentum. I played really good tennis first set. She played better in the second set. Then it was a tricky third set. She had more opportunity than me. I had one match point,” Jabeur said.
“A lot going on in my mind right now, a lot of frustration. I’m a little bit disappointed. But it is what it is. It’s tennis. It’s going to hurt for a few days and hopefully, I can learn from it.”
The Tunisian, who is enjoying a career high ranking of No. 45 at the moment, was unable to hide her disappointment after being so close, yet so far. “Honestly, she played really good. I didn’t even have time to think about that game. I knew it’s going to be tricky. I mean, I don’t think I will have so much regret for this game. I served so bad the whole match. It’s not like I served good, but this one was worse,” she said.
“I mean, if it was last year, probably I would be happy because I pushed Halep into three sets. Now I’m more angry because I didn’t win the match. I know I could have. I know I had the level to do so. Unfortunately, I didn’t play my best tennis. There is a lot of positive things in this match, but I feel like a lot of negativity right now, which is going to take time for me to be in a better spot I hope.”