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The Tennis Player Ons Jabeur Is Stuffed with Surprises

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Ons Jabeur, a finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open this 12 months, is ranked a career-high No. 2. However the Tunisian star has never qualified for the year-end WTA Finals until this 12 months, when she will likely be among the many eight women competing in singles in Fort Price.

Jabeur, 28, the highest-ever-ranked African and Arab tennis player, combines deceptively fast foot speed with a capability to unnerve opponents together with her spins, dips and drop shots. She said in a video call that sometimes when she saw a player try unsuccessfully to chase down considered one of her shots she had a tough time hiding a smile.

The next interview has been edited and condensed.

Have you ever ever been to Texas before?

No, that’s why I’m going 10 days early, just in order that I even have time to adapt to the weather, to the court, to the round-robin system and every thing else. And to try all of the barbecue food they’ve.

Would you call yourself the riskiest player on the WTA Tour?

I wish to surprise everyone not knowing what shot I’m going to go for. It might probably also put me in danger at the identical time, however it’s good. I like the adrenaline about it.

During your first eight years on tour you couldn’t break into the world’s Top 100. Do you’re thinking that it was more technical, more tactical or more psychological?

I feel it was just a little little bit of every thing. I used to be training hard. In my head I used to be doing every thing right, but then in the course of the matches I wasn’t patient enough to carry a protracted rally. Perhaps I wasn’t fit enough at certain times to essentially back up my game because in the event you make people run you could have to run as well.

You played a number of lower-level tournaments without making it to the WTA level. What kept you going?

I feel knowing deep inside that I belonged at the extent to be top-of-the-line tennis players really helped. And a number of experts told me that my game was really different. Having too many options as a tennis player — slices, drop shots, hitting hard —- is hard. I needed to put in my mind that I can do anything, but that I needed to grow to be more organized. Plus, I was once in all places, just traveling with a suitcase, and I didn’t have a base or a house. As soon as I got organized every thing became clearer for me and all I needed to fret about was playing tennis.

What was the turning point for you?

In 2018, I used to be at a superb level, but not the one I expected to be at. I got just a little mad and told myself: “That is enough. I actually need to go full and never stay in between.” Do whatever it takes to go forward and provides myself the possibility to be top-of-the-line.

Everyone talks about how popular you’re with the opposite players and the way you’re the minister of happiness. So what makes you mad?

Plenty of things make me mad, trust me. One among them is that if my drop shot doesn’t work. I don’t like that. I wish to be punctual. When people promise me something I like that they stick with it. I like good food, so bad food makes me offended as well. (Her favorite food is market loubia, a Tunisian white bean stew.)

What’s your message to all those young women who are attempting to be the following Ons Jabeur?

Plenty of people say you could have to have a certain technique or certain ways to be fit. But every player is different, and it’s best to play with what’s yours. We’ve all been there. Just be patient and your time will come.

What’s crucial thing you’ve learned about yourself?

I all the time consider that I need to remain the individual that I’m. I don’t want to vary to be No. 2 on this planet or No. 2,000. There are a number of players on the market who can achieve even higher than me. And that’s what the sport is about. For me, the tennis profession is brief, so I need to be remembered as an ideal person, not only an ideal tennis player.

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