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Ons Jabeur cools off streaking Caroline Garcia to reach US Open final in dominant display
The Wimbledon runner-up is into her second straight Grand Slam final after snapping Garcia’s 13-match winning streak to maintain her own unbeaten run against the resurgent French star.
Published Sep 09, 2022
WATCH: Jabeur reached her first Grand Slam final two months ago at Wimbledon.
NEW YORK—Ons Jabeur’s talent was never in question, but could the tour’s resident magician make enough magic to be a regular fixture atop the game?
So far the No. 5 seed has left the US Open field spellbound, surging into the championship match, 6-1, 6-3, and snapping Caroline Garcia’s 13-match winning streak to reach a second straight Grand Slam final in 66 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"At Wimbledon I was kind of just living the dream, and I couldn't believe it," Jabeur said in press. "Even just after the match, I was just going to do my things and not realizing it was an amazing achievement already.
"But now just I hope I'm getting used to it, you know, just happy the fact that I backed up the results in Wimbledon and people are not really surprised I'm in the finals, but just going and going and just doing my thing."
Garcia had heretofore been the story of the summer, winning three titles on three different surfaces and roaring to her first WTA 1000 title in five years at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati—as a qualifier, no less.
The streaking former world No. 4 took that momentum into Flushing Meadows, where she played with such dominance that she only lost back-to-back games once in five matches, and that was against Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals. In an ironic twist, Maria Sharapova was in attendance for Thursday’s semifinal; it was against the former world No. 1 that Garcia first served notice as a teenager, nearly winning their 2011 Roland Garros encounter on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
But playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal proved spectacularly overwhelming against a former junior nemesis in Jabeur, who who finished runner-up at Wimbledon back in July. Despite dipping in form during the US Open swing, she rebounded in some style against Shelby Rogers in the third round and flipped an 0-3 head-to-head against Veronika Kudermetova in the fourth before ending the run of Serena Williams’ conqueror Ajla Tomljanovic on Tuesday.
"I think for me it's always believing, and that everybody could evolve and be a better person. For me, I was trying to be a better person on and off the court. The most important thing I believe that helped me be the player I am today is really understand myself, because sometimes I had coaches telling me things, and deep inside I didn't believe that was the right thing to do.
"But it's very tough because the coach is supposed to, like, tell you and know a little bit better than you. But sometimes I had to follow my gut. And when I did that and when I surrounded myself by people who believed in me and my game, that's when I became the player that I am today."
Taking full advantage of Garcia’s obvious nerves, the talented Tunisian raced through the opening set in under 30 minutes—striking six aces (emulating idol Andy Roddick) and 11 winners while Garcia struggled to find her range with 14 unforced errors.
“Obviously, nerves were there. I think it's pretty normal,” Garcia said after the match, later adding, “The arms and the legs were not moving as great. Obviously for my game, if I'm a little bit slower or if I don't go for my shot, mistakes can come very quickly.”
It was more of the same as the second set got underway, Garcia refusing to stray from her hyper-aggressive game plan and baseline-hugging return stance.
"Today didn't work," she said. It shows me that I can still improve a lot. It did bring me a lot of wins the last couple of weeks, so I think 13 against 1, I will keep going."
Jabeur struck a forehand winner to earn break point and earned a nigh-unassailable lead as the No. 17 seed netted a backhand.
The first long game of the match came as Jabeur attempted to consolidate her lead, benefitting from a netcord passing shot that kept Garcia from earning break point, and drawing a forehand error from the Frenchwoman two games later to move within four points of victory.
Garcia made a brave last stand when it came time to serve to stay in the match, attacking the net with aplomb to put the pressure of Jabeur and striking a big forehand when two points from defeat.
But Jabeur wouldn't be denied, serving and volleying her way to match point and converting with one last forehand error from Garcia.
Awaiting either top seed Iga Swiatek or Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday, Jabeur's two weeks in New York have already tentatively assured she will rise back to a career-high of No. 2 in the WTA rankings, and she has all but clinched a spot in the WTA Finals in Fort Worth—where she narrowly missed out on her debut last fall.