Ons Jabeur has at last reached a WTA 1000 final, and she has done so in Madrid. The Tunisian player is one step away from winning the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open after seeing off Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-3 in a little over an hour. “I want to win this final. I’m going to put all of my heart into it”, said Jabeur after the match.
The first semi-final of this Mutua Madrid Open squared off two very different players; on one side of the net stood the only top-10 player left in the event, and on the other, the third player in the history of the tournament to reach the semi-finals after coming through qualifying.
Earlier in the week, Ons Jabeur dismantled the game of Simona Halep in two sets (6-3, 6-2), with a victory that gave her the belief she could win her first title in the 1000 category and become the new queen of the Madrid clay in this twentieth anniversary edition. It was her first win against the Romanian, as was her victory in the previous round against Swiss player Belinda Bencic, against whom she recently lost the final in Charleston. Asked if this is the best spell of her career, Jabeur replied that she feels “ready to accept any challenge that comes my way”. Her next challenge will be the final.
For her part, Ekaterina Alexandrova was seeking to become the first woman in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open to reach the final as a qualifier. The Russian has enjoyed a spectacular performance at the event, where she has seen off players such as Jelena Ostapenko, Marie Bouzkova and Amanda Anisimova, whom she beat in the quarter-finals in one and half hours 6-4, 6-3.
The two players had previously met on seven occasions, with six wins to Alexandrova to Jabeur’s one. In addition, the Russian had won their last four clashes consecutively. However, their history seemed to have little effect on the Tunisian’s game, as she made a confident start to the first set and earned herself a break that gave her a two-game lead (1-3). The following game could have gone either way and Alexandrova looked like she might bounce back, but Jabeur won it and went on to take the first set (2-6).
The second set was very tight and one loss of serve from the Russian gave the Tunisian a lead that she was able to convert, before going on to serve for the match at 3-5. The WTA world No. 10 produced a game to love that closed out the match demonstrating that she has adapted perfectly to the idiosyncratic conditions of the Caja Mágica.
Ons Jabeur started the week as the tenth best player in the world. When the tournament is over, she will climb to at least eighth. The Tunisian is demonstrating how comfortable she is on clay by reaching the finals at the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open and in Charleston. Despite losing the latter, the world No. 10 says she is “better now” and she has “learnt things from that final”.