Ons Jabeur overcomes setback to set up Wimbledon semi-final against Tatjana Maria

Jabeur fought from a set down on Centre Court to reach her first grand slam semi-final

<p>Ons Jabeur marched on to book her place in Thursday’s semi-finals </p>

Ons Jabeur marched on to book her place in Thursday’s semi-finals

When it got tough for Ons Jabeur it was her positive mindset that got her through at Wimbledon. The world No 2 had to dig to the depth of her resolve after trailing the dangerous Marie Bouzkova on Centre Court. She finished by flashing her entertaining game and showing why she is such a captivating and popular contender for the women’s title. In advancing to her first grand slam semi-final, she will play her good friend Germany’s Tatjana Maria for a place in Saturday’s final.

Jabeur, the tournament favourite following the exit of Iga Swiatek, arrived at the quarter-finals without dropping a set and as the last remaining seeded player in the bottom half of the draw. After sailing through her opening three matches the Tunisian has now shown grit in her last two, and had to deal with being behind for the first time this fortnight to hold off the advances of Bouzkova.

Jabeur sealed the 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory with a flourish, edging a series of entertaining duels with Bouzkova, who lived up to the occasion. Jabeur underlined her favourite status, though, with a tough, battling win as the 27-year-old continued her quest to become the first player from Africa to win a grand slam. At the heart of Jabeur’s game is a determination to enjoy the stage. Nicknamed “The Minister of Happiness” and she has won more matches on the WTA Tour than any other player since the start of 2021.

World No 2 Jabeur embraces Marie Bouzkova

This wasn’t easy, however, after Bouzkoka threatened to blow the bottom half apart when taking a deserved lead. The world No 66 had helped open up the draw by defeating Danielle Collins and Caroline Garcia, advancing past the second round of a grand slam for the first time. Faced with the biggest match of her career on Centre Court she deployed her tricky slice and low, cutting backhands to frustrate Jabeur throughout the opening set.

Jabeur advanced into the net to break at the start of the second, and Bouzkova was unable to gain a foothold in the baseline rallies. Jabeur did not allow her to, dazzling Bouzkova as she seamlessly switched to attack with the angles and slice of her drop shot. Bouzkova’s double fault sealed the double break and from there Jabeur raced to level the match.

The third set was new ground for Jabeur. It was the first time she had been taken to three sets, and she was only tested for this first time at Wimbledon in defeating Elise Mertens in the previous round. Bouzkova was very much up for the fight and moved 40-0 up on her serve after winning an extraordinary exchange from being down on the grass. Jabeur rallied, extending the points from the baseline to get to deuce, where a drop shot and then a brilliant forehand down the line earned the break. A double break was claimed, lost, and then restored. The final score was as emphatic as her conviction and her journey on Centre Court goes on.

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