Linette sends sixth seed Jabeur packing at first hurdle

Polish No.2 rallies from a set down to see off in-form Tunisian on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Magda Linette, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Polish fans have ample reason to be glued to footage when the majors roll around courtesy of a world-beating former Roland-Garros champion unbeaten in 28 consecutive matches.

While Iga Swiatek’s exploits in Paris this fortnight were sure to garner hefty attention back home, their No.2, Magda Linette, provided added reason to stay tuned with a 3-6, 7-6(4) 7-5 upset of red-hot sixth seed Ons Jabeur on Sunday.

The 30-year-old rattled the Tunisian in the opening match on Court Philippe-Chatrier, avenging a third-round defeat in Paris last year.

Story of the match

Jabeur made it clear anything less than a semi-final finish in Paris this year would fall short of her own expectations.

The 2011 junior champion had fair reason to expect as much, having reached the fourth round for the past two years, while her hefty CV on clay this season has only enhanced that belief.

Jabeur arrived in Paris with a tour-leading 17 clay-court match wins under her belt, including a maiden WTA 1000 title in Madrid and a runner-up showing in Rome, but Linette was no slouch on the surface with a pair of quarter-finals in Charleston and Strasbourg.

After dropping serve to concede the opening set at the 37-minute mark, Linette left the court to have her upper right leg treated.

The pair hung tight before the Tunisian opened up a 3-1 lead in the tiebreak.

With her back to the wall, however, her 30-year-old opponent lifted and reeled off six of the last seven points to snatch a one-hour set and level the match.

Despite failing to capitalise on a 4-2 third-set lead, Linette’s level only elevated with the finish line in sight.

Victory was complete after two hours and 30 minutes and a showdown with either Martina Trevisan or Harriet Dart was next.

Ons Jabeur, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Key stats

Jabeur has carved out a name for herself as a drop-shot queen with the terre battue in Paris perfectly suited to keeping her opponents off-balance.

While she finished the match with 16 drop shot winners, the Pole more than held her own in that department, throwing in 12 drop shot winners – two when under the pump to sneak ahead 5-4 in the final set.

The sixth seed dominated the ace count 10-1, but only claimed 64 per cent of first-serve points, 10 per cent lower than her conquerer.

Linette improved her head-to-head record to 2-3 against Jabeur and snapped her unbeaten run in her past eight first-round outings at the majors.

Magda Linette, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

What the players said

Magda Linette: “I had so many tough matches with Ons and last year here I lost to her in the third round so I knew how difficult it was going to be. I saw how well she was playing all this time so I knew I have to be focused and play every single point and try to make her uncomfortable. I'm just happy I managed to fight for every single point."

Ons Jabeur: "It was tough today. I gave it all and she had her momentum on court, she didn't give me too many options and I felt that she had response to, she had an answer to all my shots and she played very well in the important moments... I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it's difficult to take that one in. But that's what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court."