Ons Jabeur will play Iga Swiatek for the US Open Women’s Singles title

There will be a new champion at this year’s US Open, and Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek kept competing in very different ways Thursday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Jaber needed just 66 minutes to serve up Caroline Garcia, a fast-hitting Frenchwoman who loves to imitate a jet after her victories but was impacted by the weight of the occasion. Swiatek needed over two hours to clear and come back against Aryna Sabalenka, the Belarusian superstar who is a force of nature and one of the very rare ball strikers, who is strong enough to dictate terms to the explosive Swiatek.

But Swiatek, still by far the world number one, found a way to navigate the bad weather, gathering from a first-set loss and from falling 4-2 in the third to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 and reach the first Its prime finish is on a non-red and slippery surface.

She has twice won a French Championship on clay, the first from a near-no-nothing origin in October 2020 and the other being the heavyweight favorite in June. But Swiatek, who has won six championships during this remarkable season, could take her campaign and career to a new level if she manages to win her first major championship on solid ground Saturday night.

She said she was proud that she learned to adapt while running and resting; She sits on the change with her eyes closed while trying to solve tennis puzzles. It’s a method I’ve always emphasized in her work with performance psychologist Daria Abramovich.

“Earlier I felt like my emotions were kind of taking over, and I was a little panicked when I was losing,” Swiatek said. “I definitely grew up. I learned a lot, and the work we did with Daria definitely helped me. At the moment, it’s easier for me to think logically about what I can change. And I feel like I have more skills to do that than one kind of gameplay.” So I am very happy that he has changed because I think that is the most important thing at the highest level.”

Jaber also worked on improving her body and mind and had the best season of her career. Jaber sat in second in the year-long points race behind Soyatek, which her Tunisian colleagues called the Minister of Happiness, adding more sunshine to her country and her season on Thursday.

Garcia had the best tennis hand with 13 consecutive games. But Jaber met the moment with strength and accuracy. With variety and cunning. She won the first set in 23 minutes when Garcia pressed and Jabeur fired an ace and a broken backhand slipped onto the blue floor of Arthur Ashe Court.

She finished the match, 6-1, 6-3, d punctuating the defeat with a shriek and stumble before rising quickly to hug Garcia, her boyfriend, at the net.

Jaber, who is a good companion as well as an increasingly great tennis player, has many friends on tour. There is so much to celebrate. after, after Reaching her first singles final at a Grand Slam In July at Wimbledon, where she lost to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, Jabeur followed that up as she reached the final in New York.

But Swiatek, 21, deserves to be the front-runner on Saturday, even though she and Jabeur have split their previous four matches, and Jabeur was more visible in her first US Open final.

“Two in a row are amazed,” Jaber said in her court interview. “After Wimbledon, there was a lot of pressure on me, and I’m really relieved that I can support my results.”

Jaber, seeded fifth after finishing second earlier this year, is not just an icon for Tunisia. She is a symbol of a region and continent as the first Arab and African woman to reach the US Open singles final.

“I consider it a great privilege and a good pressure for me,” she said in a recent interview. “I like to have that kind of support, I always try to be positive in my life and see even bad things in a positive way. I am not only playing for myself. I am also playing for my country.”

But the goal, as Jaber’s balanced and consistent performance made clear on Thursday, is his first major title. I made it serve up a bigger weapon and although Garcia has been leading the tour with aces this season, Jaber had the advantage on Thursday, finishing with eight aces to Garcia’s two. Although her first serve percentage was less than 50 percent, she won 83 percent of the points when she made her first serve in play while Garcia, who has played well below the level she has shown in recent weeks, struggled to win points quickly with her serve. . . Garcia finished with 23 unforced errors and only 12 winners despite her aggressive tactics. Jaber had 21 winners and 15 unforced errors.

She now knows where to turn, and now she knows what she wants. She has given herself the means. She is very dedicated and determined,” said Melanie Millard, a French performance psychologist who has worked with Jaber since 2016.

It’s been a long time for Jaber, 28, to believe that someone from a humble background and a nation that has never produced a top 10 tennis player can reach the highest notes in a global sport. She spent long periods of time training in France and away from home despite her close ties to her family and roots.

But Jaber knew what she had been hearing from a young age about her talent: her innate sense of the ball; Its ability to create angles, change speeds and turns, even on the go.

“I have always believed in mental training,” Jaber said. “I’ve had a brain coach since maybe 12 or 13, long before Melanie, but we’ve been working with Melanie for a long time, and I’m very fortunate to have found the right person who can get me to know me better. It’s all about the relationship between us. We’ve done an amazing job. And we’ve come a long way. But I’ve always been someone who believed in the importance of mental health.”

As at Wimbledon, Millard was in the Jaber players box on Thursday night along with Jaber’s coach, Issam Jalali, and Jaber’s husband, Karim Kamon, who is also a fitness coach.

Although Thursday’s duel at Ash Stadium marked new ground for Jaber and Garcia – neither of them were in the US Open semi-finals – it was also a flashback. They were junior competitors who played in the 2010 US Girls’ Open in the quarter-finals and also played three more times in the Junior Grand Slam events.

Jaber has won all of those matches and has now beaten Garcia three times on the Pro Tour, all in the major tournaments. Garcia said that while Jaber’s spin and versatility were clearly posing her problems, she didn’t think again during Thursday’s defeat: simply struggling for the time being to find solutions and letting her game flow freely.

“It helped but not at the same time,” Jaber said of her long-running face-to-face fringe. “Because I know she was playing great tennis, and that puts a lot of pressure on you.” The pressure should be greater for Swiatek, who is gathering strength after failing to win the title since the French Open. Against Sabalenka, the quality of Swiatek’s defense and return ultimately made little difference, and although Sabalenka consolidated her faltering serve in New York, she was still unable to deliver the first serve in play when she needed it most in the closing service games.

The loss hit her hard. Sabalenka arrived at her post-match press conference wearing mirrored sunglasses and kept it on throughout her interview as she spoke in a softer tone than her high-intensity tennis ball style.

This was a really big opportunity: a major tournament wide open. But only two players still have a chance to win it, and it seems fitting that they were the two best players of the season.

“She has a different style of play than most guys,” Swiatek said of Jabeur. “She has a great touch. Mixed up all these things, she is just a strong opponent. She totally deserves to be in the final. I think it will be a great fight.”

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