Wimbledon final preview: Jabeur, Rybakina have date with history

Tunisian and Kazakhstani look to become their nation's first Slam champions in singles

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

Tunisian Ons Jabeur and Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina are all set for a final showdown at the All England Club on Saturday, where the pair will battle for a maiden major title and the beautiful Venus Rosewater Dish.

Here’s a close look at the match-up ahead of the fourth meeting between the pair.

A first of firsts

Saturday will witness the first women’s singles title decider at Wimbledon in the Open Era to feature two first-time Grand Slam finalists.

“Amazing for the sport. Amazing for both of us. We like new faces, so we're bringing new faces to you,” said Jabeur of hitting this new milestone with Rybakina.

Jabeur, the No.3 seed, and Rybakina, the No.17 seed, are the first players from their respective countries to reach a Grand Slam final.

The 23-year-old Rybakina is the youngest women’s singles finalist at Wimbledon since Garbine Muguruza in 2015, while Jabeur is the first African woman in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam final.

Elena Rybakina, Wimbledon 2022, semi-finals©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

The build-up

Jabeur and Rybakina had very different preparations for Wimbledon.

The Tunisian swept the title in Berlin then reached the doubles semi-finals alongside Serena Williams in Eastbourne before making a precautionary withdrawal there due to a knee injury.

Jabeur enters Saturday’s title decider riding an 11-match winning streak on grass. The 27-year-old has dropped two sets on her way to the final, one in each of her last two rounds against Tatjana Maria in the semis, and Marie Bouzkova in the quarters.

The world No.2 has won 22 of her last 24 matches and is a two-time titlist in 2022.

For Rybakina, the build-up to these Championships was less than ideal and she won just one of her three matches on the surface coming in.

This fortnight, the world No.23 has dropped just one set en route to the final, against Ajla Tomljanovic in the last eight.

Ons Jabeur, Wimbledon 2022, semi-finals©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“I didn't expect that I'm going to be here in the second week, especially in the final. I believed that I have a game to go far in the Grand Slams. Of course, I believed that maybe one day I can win it,” said Rybakina on Thursday

“It was tough because I had injuries, I didn't have good preparation, and it was not the moment when I'm just going up with my results. So of course I came a bit more relaxed since I knew that I didn't have good preparation.

“Maybe this is something also help me to get through all these matches. I can say that this is really first time when I enjoyed every day of playing and just being on the tournaments.”

Jabeur is 36-9 win-loss this season, while Rybakina is 25-12.

Over the past two seasons, Jabeur has won 84 matches, more than any other woman on tour.


In completed matches, the pair are locked at 1-1 in previous meetings, with Rybakina claiming a three-set win in Wuhan 2019 and Jabeur getting her revenge in Dubai last year. Jabeur also notched another win in Chicago in 2021 when Rybakina retired from the match while down a set.

Rybakina leads the tournament with 49 aces, compared to 17 from Jabeur, and the Kazakhstani has won an impressive 77% of her first-serve points so far, against the Tunisian’s 70%.

Jabeur has held in 50 out of 59 service games and has broken serve 28 times.

Rybakina has held in 59 out of 69 service games and has broken serve 20 times.

Elena Rybakina, Wimbledon 2022, semi-finals©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Their winner counts are comparable but it is the backhand winners category where Jabeur has an edge, firing 36 off that wing, compared to just 18 from Rybakina.

Jabeur has had more success returning her opponents’ first serve compared to Rybakina and has spent 71 fewer minutes than the world No.23 on court through six matches.

“I actually I remember I met Ons first time I think when we were playing WTA maybe 125K. I came for the first time with my dad and I met her. She was very nice to help me to find the club because she had a car. I remember how I met Ons,” said Rybakina.

“What she achieved already, it's happening, like, in front of my eyes. We are going, like, together in this journey. I think it's just amazing to think that you are making history.”

Game styles

The duo have contrasting game styles with Rybakina dependent on her huge serve and forehand and a big believer in first-strike tennis and Jabeur all about variety and breaking up the rhythm.

They are also different in their mannerism on the court, with Jabeur typically super expressive and fired up and Rybakina staying ice cold and stoic; even when she wins a match, she rarely celebrates.

"I respect that about her," said Jabeur. "I know she's a very shy person even outside the court. Maybe I'll be the one screaming tomorrow."