Tunisia’s No. 9 Ons Jabeur made a successful comeback to reach her first Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinal, knocking out No. 4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Madrid champion Jabeur trailed 6-1, 5-2 last week before turning the game around and claiming her tenth consecutive game win.
Words from the winner: “In my head at 5-2 I said, ‘You can’t finish those two weeks, those amazing almost three weeks, like this,'” Jabeur said afterwards. “That’s why I started. I’m very happy that I was able to take the win at the end.
“It’s not easy to play Maria, isn’t it? I know she hits really hard. I couldn’t find my rhythm in the beginning. But I’m happy that with a little experience I have, I was able to take the win.”
Jabeur wins wins: Several times in the second set, Jabeur was two points away from the end of her best winning streak of her career. However, the Tunisian methodically steered her way back to a win in just over two hours of play.
Jabeur maintains her position as the clay tournament leader this season, with 16 wins so far in 2022. In addition to her first WTA 1000 title in Madrid, Jabeur also reached the Charleston final and the Stuttgart quarter-finals.
Swiatek triumphs over Andreescu and meets Sabalenka in semi-final Rome
Including all surfaces, Jabeur has won 24 tour-level matches this season, the second most on tour. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek has won the most matches on tour this year, with 33.
Top 10 Confrontation: Jabeur moved to a 2-1 lead in her showdown with Sakkari. Jabeur had won an ITF Challenger meeting between them in 2015, but Sakkari is exacting revenge on 2020 Ostrava.
Jabeur turned the rivalry in her favor by winning nearly 70 percent of her first service points and converting six of her 12 break points on Friday. Despite having 11 more unforced errors than Sakkari, Jabeur doubled Sakkari’s number of winners by 28 to 14.
Sakkari served excellently in the first set and held off a handful of Jabeur passing winners. Sakkari won 74 percent of her service points, fending off the only break point she encountered in the opening set. Sakkari also charged to 5-2 in the second set and came closer to victory.
Jabeur clawed back a break as Sakkari served 5-2 for the match, then broke Sakkari’s serve for the second time in a row with a drop volley winner, making the set 5-5. A winning forehand pass on Jabeur’s first set point at 6-5 gave the Tunisian a fifth game in a row and the set.
With the momentum in her favor, Jabeur zoomed out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. Jabeur only needed one match point in that match to complete the amazing comeback after Sakkari missed a service return.
Kasatkina is waiting for: Jabeur will face World No. 23 Daria Kasatkina. Kasatkina reached the last four for the first time in Rome after she passed an injured Jil Teichmann, 6-4, 3-2. Teichmann retired due to a left thigh injury.
Prior to this week, Kasatkina was 0-for-4 in the Rome Round of 16. However, she has beaten four Top 30 players this week in a career-best Rome run, including her third Top 10 win of the year at No. .2 seeded Paula Badosa to make her first Rome quarterfinal.
Former Top 10 player Kasatkina is now one win away from her second WTA 1000 final. She reached the Indian Wells final in 2018, falling under Naomi Osaka.
“With every set I play, I played better and better,” said Kasatkina. “I’m happy with how I feel on the pitch. Okay, maybe I don’t always make the right decisions and make the right shots, but overall I’m happy with how I’m on the pitch.” I don’t know about other players, but this is what I always try to look for.”
After six service interruptions in the first eight games, Kasatkina took a crucial seventh break at 5-4. Kasatkina provided a breaking point in that game by winning a compelling rally and ending that point with a dropshot-lob combo. After taking that opportunity, Kasatkina held onto love to take the lead in one set.
World No.29 Teichmann, semi-finalist in Madrid last week, took a medical timeout at 2-1 in the second set. After dropping her serve to give Kasatkina a 3-2 lead, Teichmann stopped the game.
Close rivalry continues: Jabeur has a 3-2 head-to-head lead over Kasatkina. Jabeur won their only previous clay court game in Stuttgart last month, beating Kasatkina 6-3, 6-3 in the second round.
†[Jabeur] won 10 games in a row, I hope she’s a little tired after this,” Kasatkina said with a smile. “It’s the semi-finals, everyone is squeezing the maximum they have left. It’s going to be a tough fight for sure.”
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