Sakkari and Kerber crash out – and the draw opens up for Jabeur

Surely this is the Tunisian’s best chance yet to win a Grand Slam

Ons Jabeur Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur celebrates winning her third round match against France’s Diane Parry (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Ons Jabeur wants to be world No 1 – but there’s something else she wants to do first.

“I want to win my first Grand Slam first, then see what happen[s] after,” she told reporters after beating Diane Parry 6-3, 6-2 to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday.

Jabeur’s best result at a Slam so far has been reaching the quarter-final, which she managed in Australia in 2020, and at Wimbledon last year.

She certainly has a great chance to go two – or three – better in SW19 this summer.

In her half of the draw, the seeds have crumbled. In the third round alone, Zhang Shuai (33rd seed), Alison Riske (28th seed), Angelique Kerber (15th seed), and Maria Sakkari (fifth seed) have departed – joining second seed Anett Kontaveit, 26th seed Sorana Cirstea, and 29th seed Anhelina Kalinina, who went out in Round 2.

Anett Kontaveit at Wimbledon in 2022 Image Credit: AI Reuters/ Panoramic

Jabeur plays Elise Mertens, the 24th seed, in the fourth round, and that is by no means a formality. The Belgian is on an 18-slam streak of making at least the third round – and although she was stretched to three sets in the first two rounds, she looked more at ease en route to defeating Angelique Kerber to reach the second week.

“Of course, I want to do even better,” Mertens said after beating Kerber. “But, yeah, it’s a bit unusual, 18 streaks, third round for 18 times. I mean, that also gives you a little bit of confidence I guess coming into a Grand Slam.

“But as for now I think grass is a very particular surface and I try to adjust as good that I can. This week it’s going good so far.”

Nevertheless, Jabeur goes in to the second week as the clear favourite to reach the semi-finals – where she looks likely to meet Jelena Ostapenko, seeded 12th.

However, it would not do to get too far ahead of ourselves. If Jabeur does get past Mertens, she will face either Marie Bouzkova or Caroline Garcia in the quarter-final. Bouzkova has already taken out Danielle Collins so far this tournament, winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round, while Garcia notably knocked out Emma Raducanu in the second round.

And indeed, Ostapenko plays Tatiana Maria in the fourth round, and the winner of that match will face either Heather Watson or Jule Niemeier. Any of those three unseeded women would feel she had a chance to progress – even if faced with Ostapenko, whose immense power can so often be mixed up with erratic shot selection.

Whoever progresses, if Jabeur – who turns 28 this summer – is to achieve her dreams, winning her first Slam here at Wimbledon this year will be the first essential step.

Ladies’ singles, fourth round (bottom half of the draw)

  • Marie Bouzkova v Caroline Garcia
  • Elise Mertens (24) v Ons Jabeur (3)
  • Tatiana Maria v Jelena Ostapenko (12)
  • Heather Watson v Jule Niemeier

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