Wimbledon 2022 Day 11: Jabeur, Rybakina, Kyrgios reach first Slam final

 - Dan Imhoff

Trio all set for a new experience at SW19

Ons Jabeur Wimbledon 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Grand Slam final debutantes Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina will decide who leaves Wimbledon this year with the Venus Rosewater Dish after breaking new ground on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios also qualified for his maiden major final after Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw ahead of their last-four showdown due to an abdominal muscle tear.

Here are the highlights from the women’s singles semi-finals at the All England Club.

Ons rises to the occasion

The third-seeded Jabeur took a sizeable step towards realising her lofty Grand Slam ambition when she out-manoeuvred and outlasted her good friend, German Tatjana Maria to secure a Wimbledon final berth.

The string of firsts continued to mount as the trailblazing 27-year-old became the first Tunisian, first Arab and first African woman to progress to a Grand Slam final in the Open Era.

“I want to go bigger, inspire many more generations,” Jabeur said. “… I want to see more players from my country, from the Middle East, from Africa.

“I think we didn't believe enough at certain point that we can do it. Now I'm just trying to show that. Hopefully people are getting inspired.”

Having steadied before storming home against unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova, Jabeur again needed to dig deep before pulling clear of a wilting Maria, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

A touching moment ensued immediately after the “barbecue buddies” embraced at net when Jabeur insisted her friend share her moment on court lapping up some of the applause.

“It’s a dream coming true from years and years of work and sacrifice. I’m really happy that it’s paying off and I continue for one more match now,” Jabeur said.

“I think it was more difficult running for her balls. She killed me and she has to make me a barbecue now to make up for all the running that I did on the court.”

Maria’s dream run, following a second maternity leave less than a year ago, carried her beyond the third round at a major for just the second time in 46 Grand Slam campaigns, including qualifying.

The 34-year-old had backed up triumphs over fifth seed Maria Sakkari and 2017 Roland-Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko with a three-set victory over compatriot Jule Niemeier.

While a second top-10 victory of the fortnight was a bridge too far, the world No.103 left south-west London immensely proud.

“I mean, at the end it was a crazy adventure with my family,” Maria said. “I played a semi-final of Wimbledon. For sure I'm sad now maybe a little bit because it stops here.

“But we have to realise all these positive things, what happened these two weeks. I mean, I was so often down and I came back. You believe also in yourself more and more. It gives you confidence for more things.”

Rybakina powers into first Slam decider

Former world No.1 Simona Halep had not lost a match at the All England Club since 2018 but a free-swinging Rybakina put a swift end to that streak on Thursday afternoon.

The 23-year-old handed the 2019 champion and 2018 Roland-Garros winner a shuddering 6-3, 6-3 defeat in just 1 hour and 15 minutes to become the first player representing Kazakhstan through to a Grand Slam final.

In her ninth Grand Slam semi-final, Halep had few answers to the world No.23’s relentless power.

Rybakina clocked 21 winners and broke six times to set a fourth showdown with Jabeur, whom she trails 1-2 in the their head-to-head series.

“It was a great match and Simona, she's a great champion. We had many tough matches before,” Rybakina said.

“I was really focused today and I'm really happy with my performance because I think that I played really solid.

“I was nervous of course but I think the matches before helped me a bit. I played first time on No.1 Court, two matches there and today I played first time on Centre Court, I think the atmosphere, which I had before, helped me a lot.”

Former Roland-Garros champion Halep had enjoyed her first run to a Grand Slam semi-final since her 2019 Wimbledon triumph but after wins over the likes of fourth seed Paula Badosa and 20th seed Amanda Anisimova, the Romanian could only tip her hat to Rybakina’s performance.

“Definitely her level was very high today,” she said. “She played really well. She was very solid, consistent. Yeah, didn't drop, the level.

“I didn't do much. Somehow I think I gave her the perfect ball to do her game, to feel comfortable on court. But all the credit to her. She deserved to win today with the way I played.”

Match points of the day

Matthew Ebden had a packed schedule ahead of him on Day 11 with a men’s doubles semi-final and mixed doubles final to play.

His mixed partner, fellow Australian Samantha Stosur, and their respective opponents, Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk had to sit tight as Ebden and Max Purcell set about staging a monumental comeback on No.1 Court.

The all-Australian pairing surprised top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 3-6, 6-7(1), 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-2 and fended off five match points in a little over four hours.