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Ons Jabeur Will Play Iga Swiatek for the U.S. Open Women’s Singles Title


It has been a breakthrough 12 months, and Ons Jabeur, whom her fellow Tunisians have nicknamed the Minister of Happiness, brought some more sunshine to her country and her season on Thursday night.

Her opponent within the U.S. Open women’s singles semifinals was Caroline Garcia, a French player with the most popular hand in tennis. But Jabeur met the moment with power and precision; with variety and guile.

She won the primary set in 23 minutes as Garcia pressed and Jabeur slammed aces and chipped backhands that skidded low on the blue Arthur Ashe Stadium hardcourt.

She closed out the match, 6-1, 6-3, in only 66 minutes, stopping Garcia’s 13-match winning streak and punctuating the rout with a shout and a tumble before rising quickly to embrace Garcia, a friend, at the online.

Jabeur, who is nice company in addition to an increasingly great tennis player, has many friends on tour. And there may be much to rejoice. After reaching her first Grand Slam singles final in July at Wimbledon, where she lost to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, Jabeur has followed that up with a run to the ultimate in Recent York, where she is going to face No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who got here back to defeat No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus by 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in Thursday’s second, way more suspenseful semifinal.

Swiatek, a two-time French Open champion from Poland, will likely be making her first major singles final appearance on a surface apart from clay. She trailed 4-2 in the ultimate set against the huge-hitting Sabalenka but the standard of her defense and returns ultimately made the small difference. Though Sabalenka has shored up her faltering serve in Recent York, she was still unable to place first serves in play when she needed them most in her closing service games.

“Two in a row feels amazing,” Jabeur said in her on-court interview. “After Wimbledon, there was lots of pressure on me, and I’m really relieved that I can back up my results.”

Jabeur, seeded fifth after being ranked as high as No. 2 earlier this 12 months, isn’t only a logo for Tunisia. She is a logo for a region and a continent as the primary Arab and African woman to succeed in a U.S. Open singles final.

“I take it as an amazing privilege and pretty much as good pressure for me,” she said in a recent interview. “I really like that I even have that type of support, and I all the time attempt to be positive in my life and see even bad things in a positive way. I don’t just play for myself. I play also for my country.”

However the goal, as Jabeur’s poised and relentless performance made clear Thursday night, is a primary major title. She has made her serve a much bigger weapon and though Garcia leads the tour in aces this season, Jabeur had the sting on Thursday, ending with eight aces to Garcia’s two. Though her first-serve percentage was below 50 percent, she won 83 percent of the points when she put her first serve in play while Garcia, who played far below the extent she had shown in recent weeks, struggled to win points quickly together with her serve. Garcia finished with 23 unforced errors and just 12 winners despite her aggressive tactics. Jabeur had 21 winners and 15 unforced errors.

“She knows now where she’s going, and she or he knows now what she wants,” said Melanie Maillard, a French performance psychologist who has worked with Jabeur since 2016. “She’s given herself the means. She’s dedicated and so determined.”

It has been an extended and difficult process for Jabeur, 28, to imagine that somebody from a modest background and a nation that had never produced a top-10 tennis player could hit the very best notes in a world sport. She spent long stretches training in France and away from home despite her close connections together with her family and her roots.

But Jabeur knew what she had been hearing since her youth about her talent: her innate feel for the ball; her capability to create angles and alter speeds and spins, even on the move.

“I’ve all the time believed in mental coaching,” Jabeur said. “I had a mental coach for the reason that age of perhaps 12 or 13, long before Melanie, but we’ve been working along with Melanie for a very long time, and I’m very lucky I discovered the fitting one that could push me through and know me significantly better. It’s all in regards to the connection between each of us. We did an amazing job, and we’ve come a great distance. But I’ve all the time been someone who believed within the importance of mental health.”

As at Wimbledon, Maillard was in Jabeur’s player box on Thursday night alongside Jabeur’s coach, Issam Jellali, and Jabeur’s husband, Karim Kamoun, who can also be her fitness trainer.

“She sacrificed many things since she was little to experience this adventure,” Maillard said in an interview with the French newspaper L’Équipe this week. “She needed to feel that she could make progress when it comes to her self-confidence, to imagine completely in her project. She sensed clearly that she had something special. She had been told that since she was young, but she couldn’t quite feel it herself. ”

Though Thursday’s duel in Ashe Stadium represented recent ground for Jabeur and Garcia — neither had been in a U.S. Open semifinal — it also was a flashback. They were junior rivals who played within the U.S. Open girls event in 2010 within the quarterfinals and in addition played in three other junior Grand Slam events.

Jabeur won all those matches and has now beaten Garcia 3 times on the professional tour, all in major tournaments. Garcia said that though Jabeur’s spin and variety clearly posed her problems, she was not considering back during Thursday’s defeat: more just struggling in the current to search out solutions and let her game flow freely.

“It helped and never at the identical time,” Jabeur said of her long-running head-to-head edge. “Because I do know she was playing amazing tennis, and that puts lots of pressure on you.”

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