Rising star Sofia Kenin and Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur face off for a spot in their first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Sofia Kenin ?? vs Ons Jabeur ?? Match Info
Date: Tuesday January 28
Tournament: Australian Open QF
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 11.00am local time (12.00am GMT)
Sofia Kenin vs Ons Jabeur Head-to-Head
Kenin leads 2-0 (tour-level)
2019 | Mallorca R16 | Kenin 6-2 2-0 RET
2019 | Hobart R16 | Kenin 7-6(6) 6-3
Sofia Kenin vs Ons Jabeur Match Preview
Kenin and Jabeur have already landed personal milestones at the Australian Open by reaching their first Grand Slam quarter-final – who stays alive and advances to a maiden semi-final on Tuesday?
With all of the attention (understandably so) surrounding 15-year-old compatriot Coco Gauff, the 21-year-old Kenin had a point to prove in their fourth round showdown on Sunday, and boy did she prove it, bouncing back from the loss of the opening set to win 12 of the next 15 games, delivering a deciding-set ‘bagel’ to the teenage sensation to emerge triumphant by a 6-7(5) 6-3 6-0 scoreline. Gauff was the talk of the tournament after knocking out defending champion Naomi Osaka in the previous round, but she benefitted from countless unforced errors from the Japanese – and Kenin was never going to gift her the same amount of free points.
A three-time champion on the WTA Tour last year, Kenin remained steady and consistent from the baseline, gradually suffocating Gauff with her deep groundstrokes and creative angles, relentlessly targeting the 15-year-old’s forehand as she succeeded in breaking down that wing.
“Obviously it meant a lot to me,” Kenin said in her post-match press conference. “I was just so happy to have won. It was a tough match. I knew [Gauff is] playing well. I was just really happy with the way that I was able to handle my emotions and just fight through every point.”
“I want to show who I am, show my best tennis, show why I’m there, why I belong,” she added. “I’m doing that.”
With straight set victories over Martina Trevisan, Ann Li and Zhang Shuai in her previous three rounds, Kenin has been building nicely in Melbourne as she targets her first big Grand Slam breakthrough.
After breaking into the top 100 for the first time in 2018, Kenin enjoyed a rapid rise in 2019, winning three WTA titles in Hobart, Mallorca and Guangzhou, beating Serena Williams to make the French Open fourth round and making back-to-back semi-finals in Toronto and Cincinnati, where she beat No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 1 Naomi Osaka to become the first player since 2001 to defeat reigning World No. 1s in consecutive weeks. Kenin would qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai to finish the season at No. 14 – and if her start to 2020 is anything to go by, she’ll be in the top 10 in the not-too-distant future.
Meanwhile, Jabeur has put together a historic tournament in Melbourne, becoming the first Arab woman to make a Grand Slam quarter-final, beating a number of tremendous players on her way to the last eight, including former top 10 players Johanna Konta and Caroline Garcia, former World No. 1 and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and Chinese No. 1 Wang Qiang, who of course conquered Serena Williams in the previous round. Jabeur edged Wozniacki 7-5 in the third to send the Dane into retirement, while she dug out a tight first set tiebreaker in the fourth round against Wang before running away with the match in the second to make history for herself and country of Tunisia, which she is immensely proud to represent on the world stage.
“Quarterfinals for the first time, trying to inspire many young generation back home either in Tunisia or the Arabic world, especially in Africa, which is amazing,” Jabeur said after the match in her post-match press conference. “It’s not impossible. I made it. Like I said before, I’ve been practicing in Tunisia from the age of 3 through 16 or 17. I’m 100 percent Tunisian product.”
Jabeur has always been one of the most talented players on tour, but she has struggled with her consistency and before last season, had never managed double-digit tour-level wins in a single season – and that’s despite making her first WTA final at the Premier-level Moscow final at the end of 2018. However, Jabeur began making strides in 2019 as she won a total of 15 tour-level matches for the season, including reaching the semi-finals of Eastbourne and the third round of the U.S. Open.
?? Making History ?? | @Ons_Jabeur
Incredible performance from Ons Jabeur – she beats Wang Qiang 7-6(4) 6-1 to become the first Arab woman to make a Grand Slam quarter-final! | #AusOpen
Jabeur vs Kenin in the QFs. pic.twitter.com/uk8AmmAiLB
— Live Tennis (@livetennis) January 26, 2020
But her run in Melbourne has eclipsed of all those feats significantly – and with a decent draw to make the semi-finals, Jabeur is far from done yet.
Sofia Kenin vs Ons Jabeur Prediction
Kenin has won both of their previous tour-level meetings and actually went on to win the title at both in Hobart and Mallorca last year. It’s the classic contrast in styles – Kenin plants herself behind the baseline and attempts to get everything back, working the angles and every dimension of the court, while Jabeur will look to use her firepower to force the American further behind the baseline and then move into the court with the aim of putting away the short reply. It’s a fantastic chance for both, but I think Kenin’s ability to remain steady and at a constant base level could make the difference in a pressure-filled environment of a first major quarter-final.