“The race is the race” – Jabeur looking to clinch WTA Finals spot with strong showing in Beijing and Zhengzhou

Ons Jabeur is focused on booking her spot at the WTA Finals in Cancun with a strong performance in Beijing this week

Ons Jabeur 2023 Zuma / Panoramic

Tunisian Ons Jabeur got her China Open campaign off to a winning start on Monday, overcoming a spirited challenge from 19-year-old American Ashlyn Krueger, 6-3, 6-4.

The victory comes off the back of a title run at the Ningbo Open in China last week, a tournament that Jabeur confessed she was not even planning to play until recently.

“I wasn’t supposed to play Ningbo,” Jabeur said after her match. “It was a last-minute decision. Grateful for the tournament that they kept a wild card for me.”

Jabeur focused on qualifying for WTA Finals

With Ons Jabeur sitting 8th in the singles race currently, the world No 7 has revealed that confirming her spot in Cancun later this month is a top priority during the WTA Tour’s Asian swing.

“The race is the race, so I’m trying to get away as much as I can,” she explained to the media in Beijing. “Yeah, hopefully it could be a great decision to qualify. I have this tournament here, then Zhengzhou, if I’m saying it good, and let’s see.”

Something else on Jabeur’s mind while she’s in China? The food—noodles, specifically.

“Try to enjoy more time here in China, eating noodles, enjoying the good food,” continued the Tunisian with a grin.

With five players already qualified for the WTA Finals, just three spots remain up for grabs. Marketa Vondrousova (3661 points) and Karolina Muchova (3650 points) currently sit ahead of Jabeur (3595 points), but a strong run in Beijing could put her into the qualifying zone this week.

Contrasting trips to China for Jabeur

The last time Ons Jabeur travelled to China, it was in 2019, when the Tunisian was yet to crack the world’s top 50. She recalled some difficult times on that trip:

“I honestly did live some depressing moments here coming to Beijing because I think one of the times I was trying to sign in for quallies, and I didn’t get in. I was alone five weeks here in China. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t the best playing tennis.”

Now, as an established top 10 player on the WTA Tour, Jabeur is experiencing a very different reception here in China in 2023.

“Yeah, completely different situation for me coming back here to China,” Jabeur reflected.

“It’s honestly good to look back at these moments and know that I was really in a bad situation. Now with the ranking being a top 10 player, if you asked me a few years back, I maybe would have told you it would be very difficult. I’m very glad I turned this into a positive thing.”

Up next, Jabeur will face Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, in what will be her first meeting with the world No 33.

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