Ons Jabeur is hoping for more African tennis players to break through after defeating Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-4 at Roland Garros.
The Tunisian was in fine form in Paris as she avoided a repeat of last year to reach the second round.
Jabeur, who lost to Magda Linette in the opening round last year, dominated her Italian opponent to reach the second round at Roland Garros.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Jabeur this clay court season as she has to deal with her fair share of injuries in 2023.
Speaking after the match Jabeur admitted she is happy that she is now healthy and also spoke about her stress levels before the match given what happened last year, “It wasn’t an easy round, for sure, but I tried my best to win in two sets,” Jabeur said in her press conference.
“Obviously I’m trying to get back to my level 100%, and I think that will come match by match and by playing more matches. But I’m happy that I’m healthy and I’m moving well on the court.
“You know, like every first round is very difficult in a Grand Slam. I was pretty stressed, I’ve got to say, but I was just trying to play my game. The most important thing for me was to feel healthy and to move well on the court.”
For Jabeur, physical fitness is the most important thing to gain in Paris as she looks to build momentum heading into Wimbledon where she reached the final last year.
Another topic Jabeur was asked about was about other African tennis players that could have made it on the professional circuit.
The Tunisian spoke in depth about how many players could have made and Jabeur hopes in the future more African players will achieve their dreams, “I mean, I grew up playing a lot of Arabic and African Championship, and definitely, I cannot remember names, but I know there were a lot of talented people there,” the Tunisia explained.
“But for me, to look back at the African Championships that I played, it’s one of the best periods for me, because it’s like so innocent playing tennis. All you want is win. You don’t care how many matches you play per day. We
played like three matches a day. Nobody cares.
“I think we had really amazing, talented people from South Africa, from Zimbabwe, from Morocco, Egypt, different other countries, Algeria. Unfortunately we did not see all of them here, but hopefully that will change one day.
“But especially, you know, in the juniors, because I have seen a lot — we had like the African continent group that they travel together and do like three months’ tournaments. The ITF honestly had a really good program for all of us.
“I did benefit from that. I don’t know. Hopefully in the future we can do better and, you know, with maybe me and my era now, represent the African region, we can inspire more and more players.”
Inspiring the next generation from Africa is part of Jabeur’s mission statement as a tennis playing having advocated for more tennis players from the region in the past.
However the Tunisian doesn’t just want more African players on the tour as she wants her success to inspire other players to believe that they can win Grand Slams too, “Hopefully better than Ons Jabeur. You know, I believe that the work already started by having more and more African players here and playing and, you know, showing that it’s not impossible,” Jabeur explained.
“Hopefully players will believe more and see that it is possible to win Grand Slams. Hopefully have more academies, more facilities for, you know, Africa to be able to practice anywhere, any country. Second, you know, give the opportunity to players to travel and pay for coaches and have all of that.
“I don’t believe in having all of that, like, handed away to players, because I believe that players should work hard enough to have these facilities, but most of the players they grew up not having enough money to pay for the coach or have enough facilities, and they grew up and they become stronger and become an amazing player.
“So I believe if they believe enough in themself, they can make it here. That’s the most important thing for me.”
Jabeur’s work to help African players is inspiring as she looks to continue to motivate development in the region by achieving more success in the future.
As for Roland Garros, Jabeur will play her second round match on Thursday where she will face Oceane Dodin.
Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette
China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player.
The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.
“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying.
Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.
20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.
“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”
It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing.
Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open
Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat.
The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory.
Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.
“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added.
Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
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