Ons stamps her authority

 - Simon Cambers

World No.7 makes decisive start to her RG2023 campaign

Ons Jabeur, Roland-Garros 2023, first round© Philippe Montigny/FFT

On the eve of this year’s Roland-Garros, Ons Jabeur said she is finding her groove again after a difficult start to the year that saw her miss the Middle East swing with an unspecified health issue and a more recent a calf injury that denied her a chance to defend her Madrid title.

On Tuesday, the No.7 seed looked much more like her usual self as she saw off a talented opponent in Lucia Bronzetti of Italy, winning through 6-4, 6-1.

Beaten in the first round 12 months ago after arriving in Paris with hopes of winning the title, there were some obvious nerves at times. But Jabeur's class told as she clinched victory in one hour, 10 minutes.

Jabeur now awaits one of two Frenchwomen, Selena Janicijevic or Oceane Dodin, in the last 64.

Story of the match

Under perfect blue skies but with a strong breeze blowing around Court Philippe-Chatrier, it didn’t take long for the drop shot – Jabeur’s trademark – to make an appearance, although Bronzetti also showed nice touches of her own in the opening game.

The No.7 seed settled any nerves with a confident hold, and a beautiful, wrong-footing sliced backhand gave her break point at 1-1, which she took as Bronzetti sent an awkward backhand long.

Bronzetti, who won her first career title in Rabat earlier this year, had lost her previous five matches in Grand Slams and soon found out why Jabeur has established herself as one of the best players in the world.


Runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, Jabeur showed off her full repertoire, crunching forehands and then playing the deftest of drop shots, one, in the fourth game of the first set, played with one foot in the air.

Another beauty of a drop shot, this time a backhand angled crosscourt that dropped like a feather, gave her break point at 3-1. Bronzetti saved it with a fine point, ended at the net, but the pressure was relentless and Jabeur duly broke to extend her lead to 4-1.

A double fault from Jabeur handed Bronzetti a break point but she saved it, and a second, before holding for 5-1. The Italian stopped the rot with a hold of serve and then snatched her first break when Jabeur double-faulted and then played a rare poor drop shot.

Bronzetti held again to force Jabeur to serve for the set but the Tunisian righted the ship, holding to love to take the set after 40 minutes.

A brilliant backhand down the line set up a break point in the opening game of the second set and Bronzetti sent a forehand well over the baseline to give the No. 7 seed an early break.

From there, Jabeur never looked back and though she was broken when trying to serve it out at 5-0, the Tunisian broke Bronzetti immediately after to wrap up a convincing win.

Ons Jabeur, Lucia Bronzetti, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Key stats

Taking your opportunities is crucial to the outcome of any match and though Jabeur was in control for most of the match, she also took six of her 13 break point chances, never allowing Bronzetti the feeling that she could ease through her service games.

Bronzetti's biggest problem was when she missed her first serve. The Italian won just 25 per cent of points on her second serve, leaving her constantly under pressure.

Even on clay, most points are decided within four shots and Jabeur had the edge in that category, winning 37 and losing 29. For the record, she also dominated the 5-8 shot category (19-12) and edged the 9+ category (8-6).

What the winner said

On her nerves after losing in the first round last year
"Playing on Philippe-Chatrier is such a beautiful court, but I don't have a good history with it. Every first round is very difficult in a Grand Slam. I was pretty stressed, I've got to say, but I was just trying to play my game. The most important thing for me was to feel healthy and to move well on the court."

On being an inspiration to young players, including Mirra Andreeva
It makes me feel old, for one. (Smiling) Honestly, that was amazing, seeing that she talked about me, and she was doing well. I was really happy for her. You know, hopefully we can play each other. I can give her a signed picture. She can put it in her bedroom. I don't know. This is the first time that somebody says that. But it's special. I always try to inspire the new generation, and definitely proud of it. That will motivate me, for sure, to do better and be a better player on and off the court."

On her general level of fitness after recent injury issues
"I feel 100 per cent fit. I need to have more matches under my belt to gain confidence, to up my game on the court. This match will help me gain confidence and help me go further undoubtedly."

Ons Jabeur, Roland-Garros 2023 first round©Philippe Montigny / FFT