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Jabeur in cryptic explanation of battle to return from injury in Indian Wells: “When the time is right, I’ll tell you what was going on really.”

The Tunisian said she is probably 80 percent fit after undergoing minor knee surgery last month

Ons Jabeur Indian Wells AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Ons Jabeur‘s tennis is all about mystery, keeping her opponents guessing. It’s a game-style that has taken her to two Grand Slam finals in the past year and as high as world No 2.

The Tunisian has always been an interesting talker, too, but in Indian Wells on Saturday, there was more than an element of mystery about her words, as much as her tennis.

Back on court for the first time since announcing, soon after the Australian Open, that she required minor knee surgery, Jabeur battled to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over lucky loser Magdalena Frech to reach the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Afterwards, Jabeur suggested she probably should not be back yet, but felt she had to.

“It’s a tough decision to come back, and I was the one that insisted that I come back in Indian Wells and Miami,” she said. “It was probably too early to come back, but I just made it a new challenge for myself.

“I did regret it after the first set (smiling). But then I just told myself to accept what’s happening, to fight through it, and to just see how it goes. I’m sure it will get better and better every match.”

Jabeur: “I didn’t want to be behind in the ranking too much”

Jabeur underwent minor surgery in mid-February, explaining that she would be back on court soon. Returning to action so soon, in Indian Wells, was a risk, she knows, but one she felt worth taking.

“First, I’m an athlete and it’s tough to stay out of competition for a long time,” she said. “I was missing to be on the court. I just didn’t want to go behind of the ranking too much. I missed already two 500s and a 1000 and there is two 1000s coming.

“I was like, OK, I’m going to go and get prepared, even here and Miami, and see what’s gonna happen. I just twisted it (the plan) a little bit. I made it like a challenge for myself to see if maybe physically I’m not ready, then I can challenge my mental health or really get my brain working for once.”

Jabeur said the knee was “80 percent” and that it would take time to get back to full strength.

“The knee is getting there. Physically I obviously need more time. But when the time is right, I’ll tell you what was going on really. I’m sorry, I cannot talk about it right now. But it is more than that. So it was very challenging for me health-wise. I’m gonna see what’s gonna happen.”

Jabeur aiming for revenge over Vondrousova

Jabeur will play Marketa Vondrousova, the Czech who beat her at the Australian Open, in the third round in Indian Wells.

“It’s going to be great match,” she said. “I know how much she loves to play on this surface, so it’s gonna be another challenge for me, for sure.

“I saw that she was also playing good in Dubai, so let’s see. For me, honestly I have nothing to lose. I’m gonna try my best to beat her.”

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