Ons Jabeur revealed she drew inspiration from Venus Williams in a big comeback win over Anhelina Kalinina in her Cincinnati opener. Jabeur, seeded at No 5, had a first-round bye in Cincinnati before beating world No 28 Kalinina 6-3 6-7 (2) 7-6 (2).
In the third set, Kalinina was up by two breaks and it appeared that the Ukrainian was cruising toward an upset win over Jabeur. But Jabeur refused to quit as she impressively came back to win and avoid an upset loss. A day earlier in Cincinnati, Williams defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 7-5.
In both sets, Williams was down by two breaks but still managed to seal a straight-set win.
Jabeur on drawing inspiration from Williams
"I mean, a lot of things, a lot of frustration. I thought about a lot of things. First, the crowd really helped me get into, not giving up.
I heard some people telling me not to give up. And I saw Venus did it yesterday, coming back from 5-1. She’s an inspiration for me and for many players so I’ve got to thank her for the comeback today. Very happy with the win.
It was very tough, but I’m glad that I kept fighting, kept playing point by point, and I’m glad that I got the win in the end," Jabeur said after beating Kalinina. In the 10th game of the second set, Jabeur failed to serve out for the match and the Tunisian paid the price for it as Kalinina won the second-set tie-break to force a decider.
After stealing the second set from Jabeur, Kalinina started the third set with back-to-back breaks and a 3-0 lead. Later, Kalinina also had a 5-1 lead. But Jabeur refused to quit, earning back-to-back breaks in the eighth and 10th games to eventually force a tie-break.
In the third-set tie-break, Jabeur won four consecutive points to open a 4-1 lead before converting her first match point to complete a three-set win over Kalinina.