WATCH: Ons Jabeur defeats Marie Bouzkova in the 2022 Wimbledon quarterfinals

Some tennis players respond vigorously to displays of power. Others refuse to be beaten on the consistency front. In today’s Wimbledon quarterfinal match, Marie Bouzkova learned that when it comes to improvisation, it’s best not to mess with Ons Jabeur.

Serving in the decisive set at 0-1, 30-love, Bouzkova dashed forward for a Jabeur drop shot and, over the course of a rapid-fire net exchange, fell to the ground and ended up winning the point—a moment of such inspiration that it triggered a Bouzkova smile. Asked if that was the turning point of the match, Bouzkova concurred. “I think that was maybe my best point of my life, so maybe I got a little bit carried away there,” she said. “But obviously, yeah, just maybe -- yeah, I don't think it was a mistake of that point. But, yeah, I just made maybe a little bit more errors there. Ons once again went for it. Definitely changed the momentum of the third set.”

From there, Jabeur took control. The 27-year-old Tunisian won nine straight points—and 13 of 15—to take a 4-0 lead. Following a shaky start, Jabeur, seeded third at Wimbledon this year, ran away with this match, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career. “I was hoping that I could get to this stage for a long time already,” said Jabeur, beaten in two prior Slam quarterfinals, including last year at Wimbledon. “I struggled few times in the quarterfinal. I'm glad that I can -- because I was talking a little bit to Hicham Arazi, and he told me, Arabs always lose in the quarterfinals and we are sick of it. Please break this.”

Initially, this matchup appeared to be a style contrast between the guile of Jabeur and the power of Bouzkova. Then again, compared to the extremely disruptive Jabeur, doesn’t just about every player in tennis seem monochromatic? But in the early stages, that wasn’t the case.


Already the highest-ranked African player ever at world No. 2, Jabeur rallied from a set down to continue her historic run with a place in the Wimbledon semifinals.

Already the highest-ranked African player ever at world No. 2, Jabeur rallied from a set down to continue her historic run with a place in the Wimbledon semifinals.

Like so many players from her Czech homeland, Bouzkova might be viewed less as a pure power player and more as someone graced with exquisite timing and feel who can generate pace. Ranked No. 66 coming into Wimbledon, Bouzkova arrived in the quarters having beaten seventh-seeded Danielle Collins, experienced Ann Li, excellent grass-courter Alison Riske-Amritraj and savvy all-courter Caroline Garcia. Those are the kind of wide-ranging wins that give a player confidence. Given that in 13 prior majors, Bouzkova’s best efforts were three second round appearances, this Wimbledon was a tremendous breakthrough.

Bouzkova’s competitive comfort was clear early. All throughout the first set, she drove the ball with depth and precision, frequently fielding Jabeur’s familiar bevy of drop shots quite smoothly. “Yeah, basically every point was a battle,” said Bouzkova. “Just first set was going my way, Ons making maybe some more mistakes. I was maybe going for it a little bit more. I had a little bit more energy from my side.”

In response, Jabeur was sloppy, her technique brittle and shot selection questionable. Serving at 2-all, 30-40, cornered mid-rally behind the baseline, Jabeur attempted a cross-court drop shot that found the net. “I wasn't feeling like it was me really playing,” said Jabeur. “Maybe my sister was. I'm not sure.”


Even as Jabeur sought to scrape back into the first set, nerves surfaced. With Bouzkova serving at 4-3, 15-40, Jabeur fielded a 79 mph second serve and lined a forehand into the net. On the next point, Bouzkova again charged forward for a Jabeur drop shot, ripped a crosscourt backhand winner and eventually closed out that game with a crisp overhead. Bouzkova won the opener on her first set point, dipping a passing shot that Jabeur netted when she attempted a far too clever volley.

But immediately, Jabeur began to play much more solidly as the second set got underway. . “I know it wasn't easy playing Marie,” said Jabeur. “She gets all the balls and doesn't make, to win a point, easy for me. I'm glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn't like much.”

The drop shot deployment lessened—at least mildly—and was replaced by far more depth off both sides. This is Jabeur at her best: demonstrating faith in the meat-and-potatoes aspects of a rally—all the better to eventually serve up the small plates and dessert platter. In the end, Bouzkova didn’t lose this match so much as Jabeur swiftly enough found the way to win it.

Jabeur’s semifinal opponent will be her good friend, Tatjana Maria—a 34-year-old veteran currently ranked No. 104 who had only once advanced to the third round in 34 prior majors. Maria’s victims at Wimbledon this year have included 26th-seeded Sorana Cirstea, fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari and an escape from two match points down versus 12th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko. Jabeur and Maria have only played one another once in the main draw of a WTA event, Jabeur winning nearly five years ago in Linz. Said Jabeur, “I'm really happy for her that she's getting what she deserves. I know she struggled a lot. It's not easy coming back after having two babies. It's going to be a great match between us, a lot of respect, for sure. Maybe not be friends for two hours or, I don't know how long the match will go, and be friends again at the end.”