Ons Jabeur, the highest surviving seed in the women’s draw, won over Czech Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. The Tunisian third seed recovered from losing her first set and advanced towards her first Grand Slam semi-final.
She has won 10 straight matches on grass since a shock defeat in the opening round at this year’s Roland Garros. Afterwards, she went on to the All England Club with a title in Berlin in the lead-up.
Heading into her second straight Wimbledon quarter-final, Jabeur hasn’t lost a set in four rounds. Her forceful serves, deft slices, powerful forehands, and well-disguised drop shots have always kept opponents at bay.
In the opening stages of the first set against the 66th-ranked Bouzkova, Jabeur used a lot of drop shots which the 23-year-old Czech read well. Bouzkova’s stoic defense proved to be difficult for Jabeur. Bouzkova chased down most of Jabeur’s groundstrokes and got a break of serve in the fifth game as a reward. A second break in the ninth got Bouzkova the opening set.
It was the Tunisian’s first set loss in this year’s tournament, which was enough to wake her up and recover. She became more aggressive, hitting her groundstrokes flatter and dismantled Bouzkova’s first service game of the second set.
It was followed by a second and third break and soon Jabeur was leveling the match, her favourite drop shots once again found their mark on the luxuriant green lawns.
Bouzkova, who had six career wins over top-10 players coming into the Centre Court, called for a long bathroom break but she couldn’t shift the momentum.
Before this year’s championships, Bouzkova had never gotten past the second round of a Grand Slam. She was up 40-0 up in the second game when Jabeur won five straight points to break serve. The Tunisian, with a hold to love, then consolidated her advantage.
She had won eight straight games to jump into a 4-0 lead before Bouzkova got a break to get on board in the third set.
It was only a minor hiccup for Jabeur, who picked up another break in the next game and then held serve to love to turn things around on her first match point.
“I knew she was going to come and really make me work to win a point. She’s a talented player, and I’m really happy that I woke up during the second set and I played much better in the third set,” Jabeur said.
Jabeur is now playing at her highest career ranking of second, the first Arab to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final. She is also bidding to become the first woman from Africa to win a major.
She is set to meet the 103rd-ranked Tatjana Maria, who beat fellow German Jule Niemeier earlier, for a place in Saturday’s final.
Speaking about the semi-final, she admitted that it will be tough to go against her “barbecue buddy” Maria, who got off from maternity leave only last year after giving birth to her second daughter. The German reached her first major semi-final at the 47th attempt.
Jabeur added, “I love Tatjana so much and her family is really amazing. She’s a great friend. I am really happy for her that she’s in the semi-final.”