Jabeur has weekend plans for Paris

 - Nick McCarvel

The Tunisian is into the third round at Roland-Garros for a fourth time in six tries

Ons Jabeur, Roland-Garros 2023, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

A dream lead-up to Roland-Garros for Ons Jabeur a year ago ended in nightmare: a first-round crash-out on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Her 2023 clay season has been marred by injuries, but the two-time major finalist is building what could be a dream run in Paris.

On Thursday she won a second consecutive straight-sets match, withstanding French player – and the French crowd – Oceane Dodin 6-2, 6-3 on Chatrier, to book her spot in the middle weekend’s third round.

The No.7 seed, who was a junior champion here in 2011, now meets Olga Danilovic, ranked world No.105.

Story of the match

Jabeur was in control for much of the one hour and 11 minutes on court, breaking early in both sets to take command. But Dodin, who won her first match at a major in six years in the first round, broke back on both occasions, staying close to the two-time major runner-up.

A netted forehand in the sixth game from the 26-year-old Frenchwoman spelled eventual disaster, as Jabeur built a 5-2 lead. Another Dodin forehand miss – this one wide – sealed the first set for the Tunisian, who smacked 14 winners in the 6-2 effort.


Jabeur led 2-0 to start set two, but the French crowd let out its loudest roar of the day when Dodin broke back off a series of mis-cues from Jabeur.

They played to an even 3-3, and Jabeur was in a spot of trouble at 30-all and then deuce on her serve after Dodin ripped a return winner up the line on game point. But a lucky netcord gave Ons the game, the French crowd playfully booing the net as the ball trickled on to their home hope's side.

That would do it. Jabeur hit a patented slice backhand approach winner to take a love-15 lead, then broke a few points later as Dodin scrambled, pushing a forehand wide. An ace to open the 5-3 game to serve it out showed that Jabeur was up to the task, the match over as Dodin batted another groundie for an unforced error.

Key stats

The stat-sheet is one that Jabeur’s coach Issam Jellali will be happy with: Ons won 78 per cent of first serve points played and swung through the court on a warm Parisian afternoon, clocking 25 winners.

She was broken just twice, and was also helped along by 27 unforced errors from Dodin, who never fully found a rhythm for her powerful strokes.

Jabeur’s 47 per cent of first serves in is a stat she continues to try to bring up, but she also hit six aces while losing just six points all day on her first delivery (21 from 27).

Jabeur won 53 per cent of return points and used her famous drop shot effectively: She hit six, winning the point outright three times.

What the players said:

Match reaction from Jabeur: “It’s difficult to play against the French public as well as a French player. But I had to change my tactics to play against Dodin’s shot-making today.”

On her drop shots: “The crowds always love a drop shot wherever I play. I’ve worked on it a lot, and this shot is especially effective against someone like [Dodin] because it breaks up her pattern of play.”

On representing Tunisia: “It’s great to represent my country, and represent Africa. There aren’t many top tennis players from the region. I try to set a good example; not many tennis players get to play on a stage like Chatrier.”