Ons Jabeur lifted the biggest title of her career as she edged out Jessica Pegula in the final of the Madrid Open.
The Tunisian came out on top in a rollercoaster contest by a 7-5 0-6 6-2 scoreline to become the first African player to win a WTA 1000 tournament and ensure she will start next week at No. 7 in the world.
Jabeur attacked from the off but was left frustrated as her opponent showcased just why she is one of the WTA’s leading players when it comes to fending off break points.
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The American was on the back foot in most of her first-set service games but somehow dug out dogged holds before two excellent forays to the net saw her claim a surprise break and a 4-1 lead.
Jabeur looked exasperated that her offensive approach was not paying dividends but she stuck to her game-plan and took advantage of a sudden flurry of baseline errors from the No. 12 seed to break back and level at 4-4.
The momentum almost swung Pegula’s way once again when she kept grinding to snare a set point on the Jabeur serve. The African star responded with a sizzling backhand winner and it was that wing that did the damage in the next game as she crunched a brutal return to break to love.
Jabeur then served out the opener on her second set point to take it in 54 minutes after blitzing her way to six of the last seven games.
Coming into this final, the world No. 10 was undefeated in 16 matches when she had taken the first set in 2022 but she completely capitulated in the second.
Again, Pegula clung on by saving three break points in her opening service game before turning the tables on her opponent. Jabeur allowed herself to get distracted by the missed opportunities and she hit a deep lull packed with rash, hurried errors that resulted in her 28-year-old opponent cruising to a 26-minute bagel and forcing a decider.
The third set kicked off with a raft of breaks which was in-keeping with the thoroughly unpredictable nature of the encounter.
Jabeur was first to dig out a hold as she finally re-focused before coming through a tense deuce to snare a double break for a 5-2 lead.
The 27-year-old Tunisian then served out victory to claim a second Tour title at the expense of the American, who will rise to a career-high ranking of No. 11 in the world despite the defeat.
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