First unseeded player to win women’s singles title shatters Jabeur’s dream
LONDON: Czech Marketa Vondrousova stunned Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-4 6-4 on Saturday to become the first unseeded player in the professional era to win the Wimbledon women’s singles title.
The 24-year-old left-hander, who a year ago needed wrist surgery, proved too steady the error-strewn Jabeur who ended up as runner-up for the second successive year.
Jabeur was bidding to become the first Arab player to win a Grand Slam title and the first African woman to lift one of the four major trophies. But she was well below her best.
“This is the most painful loss of my career,” the crowd favourite said as she fought back tears.
With the Centre Court roof shut because of the threat of rain showers, crowd-favourite Jabeur initially looked comfortable as she won the opening two games of the final.
But world number 42 Vondrousova, playing a canny game full of slow slices and clever angles, settled down and began to draw errors from her opponent.
Jabeur responded again to lead 4-2 but then seemed consumed by nerves as mistakes flowed from her racket and she dropped five successive games to lose the opening set
Vondrousova, sporting tattoos on her arms, led 1-0 and 40-0 in the second set and appeared to be marching to victory but Jabeur suddenly loosened her shoulders and found her range.
It looked as though Jabeur was getting on top as she won three games in a row, but Vondrousova never panicked.
Showing great court craft and subtle changes of pace she got back to 3-3 and as Jabeur’s errors returned she broke serve at 4-4 to stand one game away from the title.
Reaching 40-0, she squandered her first match point with a double fault but put away a volley to claim the title at the second time of asking, appearing in disbelief.
Vondrousova, the first player to reach two Grand Slam finals as a non seed having contested the 2019 French Open decider, became the fourth Czech-born player to win the title in the professional era after Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna and Petra Kvitova.
‘World is watching’ Djokovic
In Sunday’s men’s final, Novak Djokovic will face Carlos Alcaraz in a match where history and a generational shift are at stake.
Djokovic is attempting to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight titles at the All England Club and match Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 Grand Slam crowns.
Having already pocketed the Australian Open and French Open in 2023, victory on Sunday will put the 36-year-old just one major away from completing the first men’s calendar Grand Slam since 1969.
“It’s the ultimate showdown,” said Djokovic, who will be playing in a record 35th Grand Slam final.
“Everything comes down to one match. All eyes of the tennis and sports world will be directed on this Sunday’s Wimbledon final. It’s probably the most watched tennis match globally.”
At 20, Alcaraz is Djokovic’s junior by 16 years.
When Djokovic captured the first of his 23 majors at the 2008 Australian Open, the Spaniard was still three months shy of his fifth birthday.
Djokovic can become Wimbledon’s oldest champion while Alcaraz is bidding to be its third youngest after Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg.
“I obviously have more experience. It can help a little bit in some important moments, beginning the match, managing the nerves, managing the occasion, circumstances,” said Djokovic.
Djokovic won the mind games when the pair clashed in the French Open semi-finals in June.
Alcaraz suffered body cramping, a physical ailment brought on, he freely admitted, just by the sight of Djokovic on the other side of the net.
The memory of his Paris collapse is still raw for Alcaraz who plans a series of mental exercises to counter the tension on Sunday.
“I’ll try to forget that I’m going to play a final against Novak,” he said.
Source: Bangkok Post