Wimbledon 2022 Day 9: Ons makes history

Tunisian breaks new ground for Arab and North African tennis by reaching maiden Slam semi

Ons Jabeur Wimbledon 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

The first day of Wimbledon quarter-finals has come to a close as Ons Jabeur, Novak Djokovic, Tatjana Maria and Cameron Norrie claimed special victories to advance.

Here's a look at some of the highlights from a historic Tuesday at the All England Club.

Onstoppable Jabeur

They call her the ‘Minister of Happiness’ in Tunisia and with good reason; Ons Jabeur continues to make history for her country and her entire region with every step she takes on a tennis court.

On Tuesday, Jabeur hit a milestone no Arab or North African player – man or woman – had ever accomplished in the Open Era: She reached the semi-final of a Grand Slam.

The world No.2 overcame a tricky Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 on Centre Court to advance to the last-four stage at Wimbledon, where she faces her good friend Tatjana Maria.

Arab-born players were 0-11 in Grand Slam quarter-finals until Jabeur finally ended that streak on Tuesday.

“It means a lot. I was hoping that I could get to this stage for a long time already,” said Jabeur after the win.

“I struggled a few times in the quarter-finals. I was talking to (Moroccan former world No.22) Hicham Arazi, and he told me, ‘Arabs always lose in the quarter-finals and we are sick of it. Please break this’. I was like, ‘I'll try, my friend, don't put this in my head’.

“We were just texting, and he was really happy. He was, like, ‘Thank you for finally making the semi-final. Now you can really go and get the title’.”

The 27-year-old Tunisian, who won the title in Berlin in the build-up to these Championships, has now extended her unbeaten run on the grass to 10 consecutive matches.

Jabeur had lost her two previous Grand Slam quarter-finals, at the 2020 Australian Open and at Wimbledon last year.

She dropped the opening set against world No.66 Bouzkova in 41 minutes before raising her level to complete a historic victory with a total of 30 winners on the stats card.

Ons Jabeur, Marie Bouzkova, Wimbledon 2022, quarter-final©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Tatjana the Supermom

Less than a year after returning from a second maternity leave, and contesting the 35th Grand Slam of her career, Tatjana Maria is through to a maiden major semi-final with a battling 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over her 22-year-old German compatriot Jule Niemeier.

Maria, who knocked out No.5 seed Maria Sakkari and former Roland-Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko (saving two match points) en route to the semis, was ranked outside the top 250 as recently as March.

A mother to two daughters, Charlotte and Cecilia, Maria is proud to be breaking new ground for moms on tour.

“I love to talk about this,” said the 34-year-old Maria.

“I think for me that's the most important in my life, to be a mom of my two kids. Nothing will change this. I'm here, yeah, I'm in the semi-final of Wimbledon, it's crazy, but I'm still a mom.

“After this I will go out over there and I will see my kids and I will do the same thing what I do every single day.

“I will change her Pampers, I mean, everything normal. I try to keep normal as much as possible, because that was what makes me proudest is to be a mom.”

Another Djokovic comeback

Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic successfully came back from two-sets-to-love down for the seventh time in his career to end the hopes of an inspired Jannik Sinner and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for an 11th time.

The six-time champion needed three hours and 35 minutes to stop the 10th-seeded Sinner 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and set up a last-four clash with home favourite Cameron Norrie.

It was Djokovic’s 84th match-win at Wimbledon, which saw him equal Jimmy Connors in second place on the list for most men’s singles victories at the tournament – behind only Roger Federer.

Djokovic took a toilet break after the second set and gave himself a pep talk that helped him turn the match around.

“It was just a pep talk, positive talk. As negative and down you feel on yourself in those moments, even though as fake as it looks or sounds to you, it really gives you an effect and support if you are trying to find the right and positive affirmations and tell it to yourself and kind of reanimate yourself in a way,” explained the 35-year-old Serb.

“So that's what I have done. I've done that after I lost two sets in finals of Roland Garros against Tsitsipas (last year), and today it worked. It doesn't always work. It's not a guarantee it will always work.”

For Sinner, it was a breakthrough fortnight on the lawns of the All England Club, The 20-year-old had never previously won a single tour-level match on grass until these Championships, but found a way to string together five impressive performances on the surface this tournament.

“I think I can be proud of what I have done here. Hopefully can give me a lot of confidence for the rest,” said the young Italian.

Norrie steps up

The No.1 Court crowd couldn’t stop chanting Norrie’s name after the British No.9 seed overcame a stern test against Belgium’s David Goffin 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 to reach the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career.

The 26-year-old is the fourth British man in the Open Era to make the last four at Wimbledon.

Norrie gave an emotional on-court interview before talking to reporters in his press conference about what it meant to him to reach the semis at SW19.

“Just all the hard work and the sacrifices and everything just kind of all hit me at once,” he explained.  

“Especially the situation, here at Wimbledon in front of my family, my friends, and obviously a lot of people following that match.

“For me, just kind of thinking back, all the hard work, the sacrifices and everything was just, I kind of didn't really know what to say obviously. Got emotional there, and, yeah, just a crazy day and crazy match to get through, especially with the way that it started.

“Yeah, that's the reason why you play the sport.”

Match point of the day

Macedonian teenager Kalin Ivanovski wrapped up his boys' singles second round on Tuesday with a tweener serve winner on match point. You have to see it to believe it!