In their first WTA Tour encounter, second seed Ons Jabeur took down British player Emma Raducanu in straight sets, advancing to her first quarterfinal this season on Wednesday night at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open.
After the Round of 16 encounter, Jabeur outlined: “I am glad that I could see my tennis improving and getting there, so hopefully, I’ll continue playing like this and even better.”
A six seed at the 2024 Australian Open, she suffered a shock 6-0, 6-2 second-rounder loss to 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, making her debut at the major.
The former world number two saw her 2023 season disrupted by a knee injury, which forced her to miss some events, including the WTA 500 tournament in Abu Dhabi.
Jabeur also shared a few words about Raducanu, asserting: “I’m a big fan of Emma; she is such an amazing player. I wish her all the best because I know she can play much better.”
An entertaining first set saw an inspired display by the Tunisian, who broke twice early in the opener, setting a staggering 5-1 lead, helped by a brilliant performance on serve and powerful forehands.
However, playing aggressively on the fast conditions imposed by the Abu Dhabi Stadium court, the 21-year-old poised a late challenge to the three-time major finalist, rallying to narrow the gap to 4-5, adding pressure over her opponent and saving set points in the process.
Nonetheless, Jabeur regrouped after dropping a game, holding her nerve to close out a tight opener 6-4 with a break of serve after 50 minutes.
Then, the 29-year-old, who in 2022 became the first African woman in the Open Era to achieve a Grand Slam final, took control of the second set, leaving no breathing room for Raducanu to recover, sentencing the set 6-1 and the match.
The player mentored by Issam Jellali fired 35 winners throughout the contest, consolidating a solid performance.
For her part, wild card Raducanu advanced to the round of 16 by controlling her match-up against Marie Bouzkova.
The former World No. 10 is on a comeback trail from injury, which forced the young talent to undergo surgery on both wrists and her left ankle, spending eight months sidelined from the Hologic WTA Tour last season.
Meanwhile, the player from Tunisia, a two-time Wimbledon finalist, will next meet sixth seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in a quarterfinal showdown.
The 27-year-old Brazilian fought hard to earn a spot in the last eight, overpowering Pole Magda Linette 7-6(6), 6-7(1), 6-1 after a dramatic 3-hour, 42-minute contest, the longest WTA match of the year.
Jabeur, who leads Haddad Maia 2-1 in their series, spoke about her next adversary, stressing: “[She is] an unbelievable player; I know she is enjoying playing here so much.”
“It’s going to be a tough match, but I will try my best, and hopefully, I’m going to be ready for this one.”