Ons Jabeur reaches Wimbledon final after beating Tatjana Maria

Ons Jabeur reaches the Wimbledon final after edging past Tatjana Maria to become the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam showpiece… as she sets up maiden title shot against either Simon Halep or Elena Rybakina

  • Ons Jabeur has reached the Wimbledon final after beating Tatjana Maria
  • She is the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 
  • Jabeur will play either Simon Halep or Elena Rybankina in Saturday’s final 

From Westminster to Wimbledon, it was quite the day for madness and spin. And it was quite the day for Ons Jabeur, too.

Ons by name and on she goes, into the final of these Championships after one of those most delightfully quirky semi-finals in the old tournament’s recent history. If power was the vogue in the Williams era and for prolonged chunks ever since, then this was a match played in slow-motion protest.

It was about slices and angles, the drop shots and the lobs, all fused together by an imaginative blend of winners and masses of mistakes that made for two fun sets and an underwhelming decider. 

Ons Jabeur has secured a place in the Wimbledon final after beating Tatjana Maria in three sets

The Tunisian player beat her German opponent 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 to reach her first Grand Slam final

Maria battled back to win the second set after losing the first but ran out of steam in the third

The shame in all that, aside from the one-sided nature of the third set, is that it brings to an end the magnificent charge of Tatjana Maria, the world No 103 whose story has been so captivating across the fortnight.

We know by now that she is a 34-year-old mother of two, who across more than 30 Slams had only once reached the third round and ranked outside the top 250 in March of this year. 

We also know she has practised with her eight-year-old daughter Charlotte at 8.30am each morning here, and after countless fightbacks in five previous rounds, she was pushing to become the first mother to win the singles here since 1980.

An entertaining first two sets was about slices and angles, the drop shots and the lobs as Jabeur took the first before Maria came back into the contest

But it wasn’t to be. It wasn’t her story. It wasn’t another comeback. Instead, after fighting her way back against Jabeur, her close friend, it was the Tunisian second seed who found the higher gears, becoming the first African to reach a Slam final in the Open era.

There has long been a question about when the 27-year-old might translate the prodigious nature of her junior career and subsequent tour successes – two titles already this year – to one of the four bigger stages, and with her first final that has been achieved. She will need to be tighter in the final than her semi, where she made 27 unforced errors, but in only dropping two sets in six matches, she arrives at speed.

She said: ‘It is a dream coming true from years of sacrifice. I continue for one more match now.

‘Tatjana has to make me a barbeque now for all the running she made me do. She is such an inspiration to so many including me, coming back after having two babies. She is a beast, she doesn’t give up, and she didn’t get tired. Her touch and serve is really impressive – I hope to see her keep going like this.’

Maria’s defeat ends a wonderful journey for the world no 103, who’s story has been captivating

It was a hard-fought win for Jabeur – who joked her opponent must make her a barbecue ‘for all the running she made me do’

Maria was quickly taken into the trenches with a 16-point opening service game, which included three chances for Jabeur to break. She survived to hold but couldn’t repeat the trick when the pressure returned at 1-1, handing the initiative to the Tunisian, and that extended to a second break to fall 5-2 behind. After 38 minutes, the set was done to the one-sided tune of 6-2.

The tennis they were playing was a delight in its unorthodox way – forehand slices from both, drop shots from close to the baseline by Jabeur, multiple exchanges of soft, angled volleys at the net – but neither woman was quite at the level they wanted to be. With 22 unforced errors split evenly between them in the first set, it was a fun but messy match, and one firmly in Jabeur’s control.

Starting the second set, Maria required another overhaul, having proven herself an expert in resurrections against each of Astra Sharma, Sorana Cirstea, Jelena Ostapenko and Jule Niemeier. In three of those she trailed by a set, in two she was down a break in the third, and against Ostapenko she faced match points. So could she spin her way out of more bother?

The final set was a largely one-sided contest and Jabeur will face Simona Halep or Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s final

The signs of yet another comeback arrived when Maria broke for 3-1 – Jabeur had failed to take either of two break points in the previous game – and from there she reached set point at 5-2. That went unclaimed but a feathered backhand into the net by Jabeur tied it up for 6-3 a moment later.

With Labour leader Keir Starmer swapping one bonkers arena for another, and taking a seat on Centre Court, there was a further plot twist when Jabeur quickly broke for 2-0 in the decider. That extended to 4-0 when Maria ballooned a smash closer to the Royal Box than the baseline. 

The gig was up when Maria put a forehand into the net, ending a brilliant run and an entertaining match.

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