NEW YORK — Ons Jabeur reached a second straight Grand Slam title match without having to show her best tennis on Thursday night, taking full advantage of a shaky showing Caroline Garcia to win their semi-final match at the US Open 6-1, 6-3.
No. 5-seeded Jabeur, a 28-year-old Tunisian, finished runner-up at Wimbledon in July and will now become the first African to compete in a US Open final in the professional era, up until 1968.
“After Wimbledon [there was] I’m under a lot of pressure,” said Jabeur after a win that lasted little more than an hour, “and I’m really relieved to be able to confirm my results.”
Jabeur will be looking to win her first major championship on Saturday when she meets the No. 1 semi-final winner Iga Swiatek of Poland and No. 6 Arina Sabalenka from Belarus. None of the last four women’s players have ever made it to the final in New York.
With four-time Major champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in their guest box – they exchanged thumbs-up signals at the end of the game – Jabeur improved to 6-0 in the semis this season and claimed their 92nd Tour-leading win since the start of 2021 The No. 91 advanced to the quarterfinals this week when they defeated Ajla Tomljanovicwho eliminates Serena Williams in the third round.
Two months ago, Jabeur became the first African and Arab to reach the Wimbledon final, where she ended up losing Elena Rybakina.
Now Jabeur, who fell to her knees and cried out at the end of the semi-final against Garcia before lying on her back in the middle of the pitch, gets another shot at a trophy.
On that 75-degree evening under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Jabeur didn’t need to be at her best, but she was still pretty good.
She ended with 21 winners – after one helped by an accidental rebound off the net, Jabeur raised a hand to apologize and then blew a kiss to the sky – and just 15 unforced errors. She delivered eight aces. She went 4-for-4 on break chances and never came up with a single one.
When Jabeur conceded a break in the second minute to go 3-1 up just 40 minutes later, the game wasn’t won yet but it might as well have been.
After a moment of silence to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Garcia won the coin toss and decided to serve, which made sense considering she’s leading the 2022 Tour at Assen (despite only hitting two on Thursday). ). But the 28-year-old player from France was immediately broken thanks to four mistakes of various kinds – a miscalculated forehand, a wide forehand, a long backhand and, most worryingly and perhaps most reflective of nerves, what should have been an easy volley she threw could barely touch and was thrown into the lower part of the net.
It was a rather awkward and nervous start for the No. 17 Garcia, who was on a 13-match winning streak, the longest of her career, and hadn’t dropped a set en route to her Slam debut in the Flushing Meadows semifinals. That included a win over the 18-year-old American Coco Gauff at Tuesday evening.
But there was no sign of the sovereign, crisp offensive game that Garcia played against Gauff – and since the beginning of June on the way to 31 match wins and three titles in this period of time.
Instead, Thursday’s semi-final was an extension of the one-sided streak between two players who first met as juniors more than a decade ago. Including those encounters as a teenager, Jabeur is now 7-0 against Garcia.
Jabeur’s style of mixing spins and speeds, throwing in drop shots to throw opponents off balance wasn’t even fully on display. At moments, particularly early on, Jabeur seemed content to keep the balls in play, sending sliced backhands deep down the center of the court and waiting for Garcia to make a mistake. Of Jabeur’s initial 18 points, 12 came from unforced errors from Garcia’s racquet, a pattern that would continue.
“Mentally,” Jabeur said, “I was so ready.”