Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur celebrates celebrates after defeating Poland’s Iga Swiatek during the women’s singles fourth round match on day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Monday, July 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
- Ons Jabeur had to get through three Grand Slam champions to get to the Wimbledon singles quarterfinals
- No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka drew two qualifiers and a wild card, before beating No. 18 Elena Rybakina
- The outcome will either be a huge Slam breakthrough for Sabalenka, or another step up for Jabeur
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur wasn’t even among the top 15 favorites to win Wimbledon before the tournament began.
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And she had just won her first career WTA title, on grass, at Eastbourne.
Ons Jabeur vs Aryna Sabalenka Odds
| Ons Jabeur (TUN)||+2.5 (-125)||+118||O 21.5 (-120)|
| Aryna Sabalenka (RUS)||-2.5 (-100)||-148||U 21.5 (-106)|
Odds as of July 5 at DraftKings
Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalanka was right behind top favorites Ashleigh Barty and Serena Williams, despite the lack of either a grass-court resumé or even decent success at the Grand Slam tournament level.
Some 10 days later, here both are in the final eight.
2021 Wimbledon Odds Tracker
Different Strokes for Different Folks
The contrast between the two players wouldn’t be more stark – especially by 2021 standards when so many of the women’s players seem cut with the same cookie cutter.
Sabalanka is (mostly) pure, raw power.
She has one of the best serves on the WTA Tour. And, perhaps even more crucially, one of the best second serves as well.
She also has been the world No. 1 in doubles and is a two-time Grand Slam champion in that discpline.
Ons Jabeur vs Aryna Sabalenka Match History
|2021||Abu Dhabi (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-2, 6-4||Sabalenka|
|2020||French Open (R32)||Outdoor Clay||7-6 (7), 2-6, 6-3||Jabeur|
From Clay to Grass – With Ease
If most expected Jabeur, a former junior French Open champion, to make her money on red clay, she has. The 26-year-old reached the fourth round in Paris the last two years. But she also made the Australian Open quarterfinals a year ago, on hard court.
Now, she has shown that touch, and guile, and adjustments – along with the requisite power of the 21st century player – can work on any surface.
Smooth Road for Sabalenka
The No. 2 seed couldn’t have asked for much more. She defeated qualifier Monica Niculescu in the first round – a tricky customer with an unusual slice forehand. Then she drew British wild card Katie Boulter. Then, another qualifier – clay-courter Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia.
Still, she should have made all of those matches easier on herself.
In the round of 16, she faced a power player quite similar to herself in Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. But Rybakina, who looked unbeatable on serve coming in, doesn’t yet have the presence or the hubris for these big moments.
Rybakina asking the umpire if she will get fined for taking a point away from her 😂😂😭 “if i break a racquet i get fined, and you?” 😂😂
— LorenaPopa 🕵️♀️🎾 (@popalorena) July 5, 2021
And then there was a call – an ace, a challenge, a replayed point – that changed quite a few things.
Ons Jabeur vs Aryna Sabalenka Head-to-Head
|26 (Aug. 27, 1994)||Age||23 (May 5, 1998)|
|Ksar el Hallar, Tunisia||Birthplace||Minsk, Belarus|
|1||Career WTA Singles Titles||10|
|0||Career Grand Slam Titles||0|
|No. 24 (May 9, 2011)||Career High Ranking||No. 4 (May 9, 2021)|
|No. 24||Current Ranking||No. 4|
|$3,139,469||Career Prize Money||$8,053,962|
|33-11||2021 Won/Loss record||33-10|
Jabeur Mows Down the Champions
Meanwhile, Jabeur received zero breaks from the draw gods.
After losing just three games to Swede Rebecca Peterson in the first round, she drew five-time champion Venus Williams.
Yes, she played the 41-year-old version. But the entire No. 1 Court was on the American’s side.
Next up was former Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza, who had been in good form. She dropped the first set, and then rolled.
In the round of 16 game 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek, the former Wimbledon junior champion. Same pattern, except Swiatek gave her a lot more help in a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, victory.
Who Will Win? It’s Complicated
Either Sabalanka will finally have that breakthrough at a major or Jabeur will continue her fine and confident run on grass.
It will be a challenge for Jabeur to wave her magic wand, faced with so much power. Her destiny will be far less in her own hands in this match.
For Sabalenka, who was 16-14 in Grand Slam tournaments before this and who had made it past the third round only twice in 14 tournaments, there’s a big mental hurdle to get over against a very tricky and deft opponent.
As hard as it is to pick a winner, if feels as though there might be half a dozen momentum changes in what could be a long, edgy encounter.
Best Bet: Jabeur in three sets (+400)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.