Jabeur makes history as Djokovic, Federer move into Australian Open quarter-finals - GulfToday

Jabeur makes history as Djokovic, Federer move into Australian Open quarter-finals

Jabeur makes history as Djokovic, Federer move into Australian Open quarter-finals

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur celebrates after a victory against China’s Wang Qiang at the Australian Open. Agence France-Presse

Tunisian rising tennis star Ons Jabeur lived beyond the expectations and became the first Arab female to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam at Australian Open on Sunday.

Jabeur got better of China’s Wang Qiang, who defeated Serena Williams in the previous round, to set the tone for the rest of the season with a fascinating performance at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history -- she reached a career-high 51 last year, and is now 78th -- will next play America’s Sofia Kenin in the last eight.

After her victory over Wang, Jabeur said she hopes to inspire the next generation of the Arabs to explore their potential and push the boundaries.

“I’m trying to inspire many (of the) young generation back home either in Tunisia or the Arabic world, especially in Africa, which is amazing,” Jabeur said.

“I mean, it’s not impossible. I made it. Like I said before, I’ve been practising in Tunisia from the age of three through 16 or 17. I’m a 100 per cent Tunisian product.”

Africa’s number one, the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open, said she had received messages from people watching in the early hours back home.

Selima Sfar is the only other Tunisian woman to win at a Grand Slam after she reached the second round at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the US Open in the 2000s.

Jabeur’s success has not come easy -- Tunisia has been through a period of upheaval surrounding the revolution of 2011, with security parlous for a time.

“It was little bit tough after the revolution. It was not really safe at the time. Now everything, like, is normal,” said Jabeur, who now feels she’s getting the reward for years of hard work.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer swept into the Australian Open quarter-finals but 15-year-old Coco Gauff exited in tears on Sunday after her quest to become the Open era’s youngest Grand Slam winner came screeching to a halt.

As Melbourne marked Australia Day with formation jets and a 21-gun salute, world number one Ashleigh Barty had home fans celebrating before crowd favourite Federer dismantled Marton Fucsovics in the night match.

Djokovic, hunting his eighth Melbourne title, was remorseless against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, crushing the 14th seed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to book an 11th appearance in the last eight.

The Serb’s reward is a match-up with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who is back in form after a run of injuries and dismissed 2018 finalist Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

Gauff’s giant-killing Australian debut generated hype dubbed ‘Cocomania’ as she attempted to become the youngest Major winner in the post-1968 Open Era, breaking the record set by a 16-year-old Martina Hingis in 1997.

Gauff beat seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in round one and title-holder Naomi Osaka in the third, but she came unstuck against a determined Sofia Kenin.

Gauff raised hopes by edging the first set but then her fellow American took control and it was one-sided at the finish as Kenin won 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-0. Kenin, already on the best Grand Slam run of her career, next faces Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

Australia’s Barty had some nervy moments against American Alison Riske, dropping the second set and briefly losing her way before recovering to win 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

She now has an improving chance of becoming the first home-grown winner since Chris O’Neil in 1978 after six of the top 10 seeds exited in the previous round.

“I just had to hang in there and try and give myself a chance,” said Barty, who next plays Petra Kvitova, after the two-time Wimbledon champion beat Maria Sakkari 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-2.

Later, Federer sent ripples of consternation around Rod Laver Arena when he dropped the first set against Hungary’s Fucsovics, the world number 67. But the 38-year-old Swiss, pushed to a fifth-set tie-breaker by Australia’s John Millman on Friday, came alive in the second set as he rattled through the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.


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