PARIS – Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the fourth round of the French Open as she beat eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(7) 2-6 6-3 on Saturday.
The 30th seed displayed her trademark court craft to undermine Sabalenka’s power as she surpassed her previous best third round showing at Roland Garros in 2017.
Sabalenka led 5-1 in the opening set tie break, but a series of errors allowed 26-year-old Jabeur to snatch it.
Former French Open junior champion Jabeur’s level dipped in the face of some fierce Sabalenka hitting as the second set slipped away in little over 20 minutes.
But the Tunisian, who became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in Australia this year, re-grouped and forged 3-0 ahead in the deciding set.
She also had points for a 4-0 lead, but Belarussian Sabalenka upped the intensity and the decibel level to stay in contention.
Sabalenka saved three match points at 2-5, then had a break point in the next game. But Jabeur remained composed as she brought up a match point and showed great touch to angle away a short forehand, then sealing the win with a first serve.