Ons Jabeur continued her excellent grass-court season by knocking out former champion Garbine Muguruza 5-7 6-3 6-2 to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time.
Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to win a WTA Tour title in Birmingham, has set up a scintillating clash with Iga Swiatek, who also served notice of how threatening she is becoming on grass on Friday.
While Swiatek spent just 55 minutes on Court 12, the Tunisian’s duel with Muguruza lastest for two hours and 26 minutes on Centre Court.
“I’m good… I can play another match right now,” Jabeur, joked with the Centre Court crowd afterwards.
“I’m very happy, it’s the first time that I’ve played on Centre Court and you guys [the fans] are amazing, thank you.
“This is the best day of my tennis career and I’m not saying this just so that you can cheer for me in the next round! This is the favourite Centre Court I’ve played on. I’m telling the truth; the energy is amazing. I’m so, so, so happy.”
Jabeur set the bar high for the contest, by hitting a winner around the net post in just the second game of the match.
This was an encounter full of compelling rallies, but it was Muguruza who edged the opening set, serving it out at the second time of asking after taking a minor tumble.
The 26-year-old Jabeur is one of the trickiest players on tour in terms of her variety and unpredictability though, and there were drop shots aplenty as she turned the match around in the second set.
She raced into a 3-0 lead in the decider, held off Muguruza’s attempts at a fightback and overcame her own considerable nerves, to serve it out and book her fourth-round place.
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🍓Feels good. 3rd round!
🍓Dobry dzień i jest 3. [email protected] @ASICSTennis pic.twitter.com/FXbYM9DkDa
Swiatek arrived at Wimbledon with low expectations, but the 20-year-old’s 6-1 6-0 dismantling of Irina-Camelia Begu has now raised the bar.
Last year’s French Open champion, who won the girls title in 2018, thinks that she’s growing into this year’s Championships.
“I feel like I’m playing better and better every match, and I’m actually getting more confidence because I have been on a grass court for some time now. I’m practising a lot during my free days,” she said.
“I just feel the surface much, much better than at the beginning of the tournament. It’s easier to implement all the tactics that I wasn’t able to implement when I wasn’t feeling comfortable.
“It’s just easier to lead for me and to be aggressive on court and stay focused all the time.”
Aryna Sabalenka, who defeated Katie Boulter in the previous round, was another player who spent very little time on court on Friday.
The second seed took just 75 minutes to record a 6-0 6-3 victory over qualifer Maria Camila Osorio Serrano.
Sabalenka is the only woman among the top 20 seeds yet to reach a major quarter-final and if she wants to erase that statistic, then she’ll have to beat Elena Rybakina in the fourth round.
Rybakina, seeded 18, breezed past Shelby Rogers 6-1 6-4 and she spent just 66 minutes out on Court 18.
On No 1 Court, the wildcard Liudmila Samsonova got the better of Sloane Stephens, who was sporting a knee brace after a fall in the second round.
Samsonova is playing in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time, but her 6-2 2-6 6-4 result against Stephens, extends her winning streak to 10 matches.
The world No 65 has now secured a fourth-round encounter with someone who knows all about the Championships – Karolina Pliskova – after the Czech eighth seed overcame Tereza Martincova in straight sets.
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