Tunisian Ons Jabeur began the 2021 WTA season with a resounding victory after defeating Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first round at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open.
Jabeur overcame the Russian in straight sets, 7-6 6-3, in just under an hour and a half to advance to the second round. It was also the 15th seed’s second win against her opponent in two meetings.
Jabeur won an early break of serve in the fifth game but Pavlyuchenkova broke back in the next game. The set then went with serve, and with Jabeur managing to save two set points in the 10th game, at 5-4, it ended up being forced into a tie-breaker.
Jabeur seized the initiative in the tie-breaker to take a 5-2 lead and she then went on to convert her second set point to win the tie-breaker and take the first set 7-6 (7-3).
The second set was a more straightforward with the Tunisian breaking in the second and sixth games to take a 5-1 lead. Though she dropped serve in the seventh game and Pavlyuchenkova also reduced the score to 5-3, Jabeur converted her first match point to win the second set and take the match 7-6, 6-3.
“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling fit and amazing on the court, so hopefully I can continue playing this way and even better,” Jabeur told the WTA’s media team after the match.
The 26-year-old will be hoping to replicate the strong form she showed last year which saw her become the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal and achieve a career-high ranking.
Jabeur is next scheduled to play either Wang Yafan of China or a qualifier to be determined.