Ons Jabeur of Tunisia won the Mutua Madrid Open in three sets over Jessica Pegula of the United States on Saturday, March 6, 2022. She made history as the first African woman to win a Women Tennis Association (WTA) 1000 title.
“To my team, for all the hard work we’ve been doing, I’ve lost a lot of finals, but I’m really pleased to get the win,” Jabeur said during the trophy ceremony.
World No. 10 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia and World No. 14 Jessica Pegula of the United States competed in the Mutua Madrid Open women’s final. Each player was aiming for something they’d never done before: winning their first WTA 1000 title. Jabeur’s victory propelled her to a career-high No. 7 on WTA Rankings, while Pegula’s victory propelled her into the top 10.
Jabeur as it turned out, reached yet another milestone in her illustrious career. On Manolo Santana Stadium, she defeated Pegula 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 in one hour and 54 minutes to become the first Arab and African to win a WTA 1000 title.
First, Jabeur reversed a 4-1 deficit, survived a set point and eventually garnered the opening set. Then, she persevered through a second-set dip in her energy and rhythm, in which she was bageled by Pegula 6-0.
Finally, the Tunisian built a 4-1 lead in the final set and won the match convincingly. Jabeur hit 29 winners to Pegula’s 14 and outpointed her opponent 90-85.
It was Jabeur’s second career WTA title following her first crown won on grass last summer in Birmingham, England. She’s 2-4 in WTA title matches.
“When I had the match point, I was like I had to win it from the beginning, otherwise it’s going to be very tough for me,” Jabeur said later in press after the title victory. “But I’m very happy and trying to realize that I won today, really.”
Entering the 2020 season, before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the WTA for several months, Pegula was ranked 76th and Jabeur 77. Each has come a long way since then.
“For me and Ons,” the 12th seed Pegula said in press earlier this week, “it’s pretty crazy. It just shows you what hard work and determination, playing week in and week out and just trying to get better, you can get to the top, as long as you believe it.”
In her first WTA 1000 semifinal, No. 8 seed Jabeur reached the title match with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 45 Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia. It built upon her earlier victories in Madrid against Jasmine Paolini, Varvara Gracheva, No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic and two-time Madrid champion Simona Halep.
Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Pegula reached the final with a solid win over No. 35 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals. She had advanced through the draw by beating Camila Giorgi, Kaia Kanepi, Bianca Andreescu and Sara Sorribes Tormo.
“The main important thing for me – I know it’s winning the title – but it’s knowing that I gave it all during the match and not regretting that,” Jabeur, 27, said earlier this week in press.
Now, after beating Pegula on Saturday, Jabeur leads the WTA in wins on clay with 12.
“I know if this one is not coming, then there is another one.
“I keep pushing myself to do better, and the proof is that from Charleston, I worked really hard to be in the finals here. I’m going to leave my heart of the court on Saturday.”
After securing championship point, Jabeur dropped to her knees and said a prayer of thanks. She had a big smile on her face, too. Soon after, she strolled over to her box and hugged her coach, Issam Jellali, her husband, Karim Kamoun, and other assorted family members and friends, who had arrived in Madrid to watch her play in Saturday’s final.
“I’m so happy that I didn’t wait long [for the title], because I was really disappointed after Charleston and Stuttgart,” Jabeur said. “I was really close and I know I was playing really good there. But I have been doing a lot of hard work to see that it’s paying off. I cannot describe how I feel right now.”
Currently she has moved a ranking higher, rated No. 6 in the world on May 16, 2022 by WTA. Jabeur is the current No. 1 Tunisian tennis player and the highest-ranked Arab tennis player in the history of the ATP and WTA rankings. On the WTA Tour, she has won two singles titles, as well as 11 singles and one doubles title on the ITF Women’s Circuit.
Source: Tennis Tour Talk