Ons Jabeur Used To Be Rejected By Sponsors For Being Tunisian, Now She Is A Tennis Trailblazer - UBITENNIS
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Ons Jabeur Used To Be Rejected By Sponsors For Being Tunisian, Now She Is A Tennis Trailblazer

The Arab tennis sensation has made history following her latest win in Indian Wells and is hungry to achieve more.

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Ons Jabeur (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Entering this year’s BNP Paribas Open Ons Jabeur has already achieved a series of firsts for an Arab tennis player. However, it is her latest achievement which has earned her praise from the likes of Andy Murray and Billie Jean King.

 

The 27-year-old Tunisian continued her fairytale run at the tournament on Thursday by defeating Anette Kontaveit 7-5, 6-3, to move into the semi-finals. In doing so she has guaranteed her place in the world’s top 10 next week for the first time in her career. It is a milestone which had never been achieved by an Arab player – male or female – in the history of the sport until now.

“This is a dream coming true,” said Jabeur. “I always wanted to get there, to be No. 1 in the world.’
“Top 10 I know is the beginning. I know I deserve this place for a long time since I was playing well. But I want to prove that I deserve to be here, I deserve to be one of the top 10 players.” She added.

The breakthrough has been a long time coming for Jabeur who first rose to prominence a decade ago when she became the first North African player to win a junior Grand Slam title at the 2011 French Open. Since then she has steadily climbed the rankings. This year she won her maiden Tour title at the Birmingham Open, becoming the first Arab woman to do so. She also reached the final of tournaments in Chicago and Charleston, as well as reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

After establishing herself as one of the best players in the world, Jabeur admits her journey to the top has not been an easy one. Coming from a country such as Tunisia which doesn’t have such a comprehensive support system for tennis players was difficult. She explains that finding sponsorships was difficult at times with some not wanting to do deals with her due to where she came from.

“It is much different to come from my country than being American or French or Australian. They have not just the example of seeing players playing in front of you, but more tennis clubs and even more tournaments,” she said.
“I’ve been rejected by sponsors because of where I come from, which is so not fair. I didn’t understand why before. I accepted it. I dealt with it. I am really proud of the person I became today, just not relying on others.’
“Everybody probably had a difficult career. I’m not saying I have the most difficult one. I just wanted to really do this. It’s my dream. I didn’t want to depend on a sponsor or someone who doesn’t even care about tennis or doesn’t even care about sport in general.”

Those sponsorship difficulties are a thing of the past and it is likely Jabeur will attract more interest from companies following her entry into the world’s top 10. On social media various former Grand Slam champions have praised her latest milestone. On Twitter Andy Murray commented that Jabeur’s entry into the world’s top 10 was ‘very cool’ and Billie Jean King described her latest win as ‘historic.’

“It shows how important it is for me to achieve this. Being recognized by legends, honestly, it just gives me even more the power to work harder and be like them one day, maybe, a Grand Slam champion.” Jabeur said in reponse to those comments.

Coming into Indian Wells, achieving a ranking high wasn’t the first thing on her mind. Instead, it was trying to close in on securing a spot in the WTA Finals next month. She is currently ranked eighth, which is the final qualifying spot, in the WTA race after overtaking Naomi Osaka.

“I came here stressed a lot with the race. I know so many players were playing here. I really didn’t look much at the ranking, but I knew I was kind of not far,” Jabeur explained. “I was talking to my mental coach and I told her, this is too much. But I told her, I need to do this, I need to go through this to be able to win a Grand Slam one day. To go and win a Grand Slam, you need to kind of take this step.”

Jabeur is a win away from becoming the first Arab woman to reach an Indian Wells final and the first from an African country since Amanda Coetzer back in 1994. Standing in her way is Spain’s Paula Badosa who knocked out former champion Angelique Kerber in her quarter-final match.

“I always said she’s one of the most talented players in the world,” Badosa said of her Tunisian rival. “She’s having an amazing year. It’s nice seeing all these players that we were like a few years ago outside the top hundred now being top 10, top 20, fighting for the finals. It’s amazing. I’m super happy and I’m happy that I can play her.”

Earlier this year at the Miami Open Jabeur defeated Badosa 7-6(6), 5-7, 7-5, in what was their first Tour meeting since 2015.

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Rafael Nadal To Skip ATP Cup Ahead Of Australian Open

Where will the former world No.1 play his first tournament of 2022?

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WASHINGTON, USA - August 4: Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 4, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will not be starting his season at the ATP Cup in Australia, according to a leading sports newspaper.

 

Marca has reported that the former world No.1 has opted to not play in the team event which is set to get underway on January 1st. Nadal is currently on the comeback from a foot injury and hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since August. Next month he will return to action in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which is an exhibition event.

“I am very happy to be back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said in a video released earlier this week. “I hope to see you soon there.”

It is understood that due to his off-season schedule Nadal has chosen to pass on the team event but it is unclear as to what or if he will play in any other events leading up to the Australian Open which will begin on January 17th. Besides the ATP Cup, four ATP 250 events will be staged in the lead up to the Grand Slam.

The 35-year-old isn’t the only top Spanish name set to miss the ATP Cup. It has also been reported that rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollerswill not be playing as they intend to arrive in Australia at a later date. Instead the team will be headed by Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta. Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP Cup offers both ranking points and prize money to players.

Nadal has won 24 out of 29 matches played on the Tour this year before ending his season due to injury. He won the Italian Masters and Barcelona Open to increase his career ATP title tally to 88. In the majors he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the French Open.

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Former Australian Davis Cup Players Slam Organisers Over Reported Move To Abu Dhabi

Todd Woodbridge and Sam Groth has hit out at the rumoured changes.

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TORINO, ITALY - NOVEMBER 29: Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2021 at Pala Alpitour on November 29, 2021 in Torino, Italy. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

The most successful Australian doubles player in Davis Cup history has said he doesn’t believe the historic team event will still be going in five years time.

 

Todd Woodbridge, who played in 32 Davis Cup ties during his career, has called for the tennis administrators who approved changes to be made to the event to resign from their positions. In 2018 at the International Tennis Federation’s ATM, officials voted in favour of transforming the event into a weeklong finals. The changes are being overseen by investment firm Kosmos who has pledged to invest $3bn over a 25-year period.

This year’s ATP Finals is taking place across three cities in Europe with the final being held in Madrid for the second time in a row. However, it is understood that Kosmos will reveal their plans to the ITF this week to move the event to Abu Dhabi. According to The Telegraph, Kosmos are set to purpose the group stages to be held in Europe with the eight qualified teams then having to travel to Abu Dhabi. It is reported that the deal to move the event to the Middle East, which Kosmos founder Gerald Pique reportedly struck himself, is the only ‘viable option’ being presented. Although there are concerns from some.

Reacting to the development, Woodbridge has blasted the move during an interview with Wide World of Sports. The former world No.1 doubles player has accused Kosmos of destroying the competition and not paying any consideration to its history.

There is an announcement coming in the next few days that it (the Davis Cup Finals) will be moved to Abu Dhabi. It will be a 14 day event finishing in mid December. What player in their right mind is going to go to Abu Dhabi and give themselves two weeks off before starting the new season?” Woodbridge commented.
“The people who are making these decisions really need to look at themselves because this event I don’t think will be with us in five year times.”

Joining Woodbridge in his opposition is former world No.53 Sam Groth who claims that players are being attracted to play the event due to ‘payment on the backside.’ He has also accused world No.1 Novak Djokovic of double standards.

I can tell you the sort of players who are going to show up to a 14-day event in Abu Dhabi and it is the ones that are currently defending the event that I’m sure are having some payment on the backside to support what is now called the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals,” said Groth.
“This is not the Davis Cup but the players who are going to turn up are exactly like Novak Djokovic up who has refuted Lleyton’s comments about the tournament needing a change, it needs to be adjusted and needs to be played in different cities. I don’t have facts on this but I believe there is something going on with this group (Kosmos) is spending a lot of money and they have big financial backers in Abu Dhabi. Also for a guy who wants a shorter season and to support something that goes into mid December it is very contradictory.”

The International Tennis Federation will formally announce the new location of the Davis Cup Finals on Sunday in what will be a joint media presentation with Kosmos.

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Croatia beats Italy to book semifinal spot in the Davis Cup

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Croatia upset Italy 2-1 in the quarter finals of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals at the Pala Alpitour in Turin to reach the semifinal, as Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic beat Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner 6-3 6-4 in the decisive double match. 

 

Borna Gojo gave Croatia an early 1-0 lead over Italy in the quarter finals of the Davis Cup quarter finals at the Pala Alpitour in Turin after his 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 6-2 win against Lorenzo Sonego after 2 hours and 19 minutes. 

Sonego went up a 4-1 lead with a break in the fourth game, but he did not convert a double break point in the sixth game. Gojo broke back at 30 in the seventh game. The Croatian player won five consecutive points from 2-2 to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Sonego went up a 4-0 lead with a double break in the second set. The world number 27 player saved three break-back points. He held serve in the seventh game with two aces to seal the set 6-2. 

Gojo earned a break in the fourth game of the third set to take a 3-1 lead and held serve for 4-1. Sonego earned two break-back points in the seventh game, but Gojo saved them with a backhand volley and a first serve. The world number 279 held serve with an ace to open up a 5-2 lead and sealed the decisive set 6-2 with his second break.

“It feels amazing. We knew we had to get one point from the two singles.The support was unbelievable. They are so loud. Some of my best friends and family are here and I want to thank them with all my heart for comng”, said Gojo. 

Jannik Sinner came back from one set down to edge Marin Cilic 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 drawing level the tie to 1-1. 

Cilic rallied from 15-40 down to break serve on his second opportunity in the fourth game of the opening set. Both players held their next service games. Cilic served out the first set 6-3 in the ninth game after recovering from 0-30 down.

Sinner battled back from a set and a break down. Cilic served for the match when he was leading 5-4 in the second set. Sinner fought back from the brink, breaking to love before winning the tie-break 7-4. 

Sinner broke serve to love at the start of the third set. Cilic converted his third break-back point in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Both players went on serve until the seventh game, when Sinner earned his second break to take a 4-3 lead. The Italian star held his serve before earning two match points at 5-3. Cilic saved the first chance with a forehand inside-out. Sinner broke serve on his second match point.  

“The most important thing is that we are are still here. It is the most important amazing feeling. We will try to do the best in the doubles. I just tried to stay there. It was not easy trying to break him for the match, but I just tried my best”, said Sinner. 

Olympic champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic beat Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner 6-3 6-4 after 1 hour and 20 minutes to secure Croatia a spot in the semifinals. 

The Croatian team earned the first break in the fourth game at deuce to take a 3-1 lead. Sinner and Fognini saved five set points to hold serve at deuce in the eighth game. Mektic and Pavic did not face any break points to close out the first set 6-3 after 38 minutes. 

The Italian team saved a break point in the third game of the second set. Croatia earned the break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 after Fognini made a double fault and did not face a break point in their next service games to win the 42-minute second set 6-4 on their first match point, as Pavic fired an ace.  

Italy did not earn any break points, while Croatia converted two of their eight chances.

Croatia will face either Serbia or Kazakhstan in the semifinal in Madrid. 

“Honestly, it feels incredible. I don’s think anyone expected us to get this far and it feels amazing to be going in Madrid”, said Mektic. 

Croatia is bidding for a third Davis Cup title and the second in three editions after claiming this tournament in 2018. 

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