Jabeur dominates Alexandrov in Madrid to reach the first WTA 1000 final

No.8 seed Ons Jabeur continued her first time at the Mutua Madrid Open, becoming the first Arab player to reach the WTA 1000 final after defeating qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-3 in 61 minutes.

The result was an illustration of Jabeur’s reinvention over the past two seasons. Between 2016 and 2018, she lost to Alexander five times in six matches, all at ITF or qualifying level. Last October, Alexandrova added a sixth win, but after retiring to Moscow.

In the first completed match between the pair since Jabeur’s rise to 2020 in the Top 20, the Tunisian was both ruthless and efficient. She decided to go toe to toe with Alexandrov in terms of tennis for the first shot, collecting quick points with pure strength instead of relying on dazzling hot punches.

Madrid will be the second final of Jabeur 2022, after winning second-place tournament in Charleston last month, and the sixth final in her career.

Alexander’s defeat means the qualifiers are now 0-11 in the WTA 1000 semifinals dating back to 2009. Jabeur is guaranteed to rise from 10th to 8th place in the standings next week, and her title would be equal to the peak of her career No.7.

By numbers: In total, Jabeur fell just six points behind their first serve; and in the second set her delivery reached untouchable heights. Having achieved 80% of her first serves, she received a total of only four points in her serve games.

Jabeur also scored slightly more clean winners, 13 against 11 of Alexandrov, but more importantly kept the number of unforced errors at a meager nine compared to 23 opponents. Particularly bad weather for Alexandrova’s 45th place were two misconceptions from the ground, followed by two consecutive double faults, with which she dropped the serve to 3-4 in the second set.

Match point: After a sharp start that had already experienced an exchange of breaks, Jabeur regained its advantage by reaching the top of the spectacular outplay and breaking 4-2 in the first set. Both players hit the ball in each corner of the court for 20 shots before Jabeur finished it in style – of course – with a dropshot.

Jabeur on the challenge posed by Alexandrova: “I don’t have great records in front of her. I knew I was playing such an aggressive player. She hits very straight and hits a lot of winners, so I accepted such winners in my mind and accepted that she can make any ace anytime, any winner anytime.

“I know I was the favorite, I know I played well, I also knew she was a little tired of playing a lot of matches. So mentally I was really focused and I was ready to win and I didn’t accept to lose this time.

“I feel it’s a tournament and a vengeful tournament, from Bencic through Aleppo to Alexandrova. If it goes in this rhythm, I think Jil [Teichmann, who defeated Jabeur at Dubai 2021] he will win tonight.

“But I feel like I’m continuing to test, test my patience. On testing, OK, Ons, you said you want to be Top 5, you want to win titles – here he is, players, champions you’re going to play against. Show me what you got, you know.”

Jabeur on looking forward to the finals: “I will put a positive here. I want to win this final. I will put my heart, my favorite dropshot, my forehand.

“This match will be different [from the Charleston final]. I’m just really going to do my best. I don’t want to regret, you know, saying like, That I needed this, That I should have done that, I should have won my serve at that point. Maybe I’ll follow the same spirit I played in Birmingham.

“For me, the most important thing is that I know it’s winning the title, but knowing that I gave everything during the match and I don’t regret it. I know that if this one doesn’t come, then there is another one.

“I’m constantly pushing myself to be better. The proof is that I worked very hard from Charleston to be here in the finals. Like I said, I’m going to leave my heart on the field on Saturday.”

Madrid: Jabeur celebrates its 2nd victory against Alexandrova in 8 matches, enters the 1st final of the WTA 1000

Madrid 2022

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