Ons Jabeur was full of praise for Emma Raducanu following their Abu Dhabi Open match, hailing the 21-year-old Briton as "an amazing player" and tipping the 2021 US Open champion to have a very bright future after a period of struggle caused by constant injuries.
Following a first-round bye in Abu Dhabi, No. 2 seed Jabeur started her campaign in the United Arab Emirates with a 6-4 6-1 win over Raducanu in a match that highlighted round-of-16 action. Although the match ended in two sets and there wasn't any drama, the match still featured some great shots and a packed stadium.
Raducanu, who was playing in her third post-surgery tournament, was aiming to clinch her first top-10 win against Jabeur. But three-time Grand Slam finalist Jabeur didn't allow that to happen, giving the Briton just a total of five games during their match.
After ousting Raducanu, Jabeur insisted that it wasn't an easy match at all. Also, Jabeur took a moment to acknowledge Raducanu's historic 2021 US Open win and back the 21-year-old to have more big runs in the future.
"She didn't make it easy for me obviously," Jabeur said after overcoming Raducanu in Abu Dhabi.
"Emma is such an amazing player. I really wish her all the best and I know she can play much better.
"I'm a big fan of hers so I'm looking forward to seeing her win more matches.
"Emma had an amazing experience at the US Open and everybody followed her. She's had an amazing career.
"Everyone has a different story, we struggle a lot, we go through a lot of things. But a lot of amazing women play on the tour."
Jabeur 'proud' to deliver a big performance against Raducanu in Abu Dhabi
Jabeur, who will be turning 30 in August, is already by far the most successful player in Arab tennis history. After becoming the first-ever Arab to break into the top-10, Jabeur also became the first-ever Arab player to reach a Grand Slam final.
To no one's surprise, Jabeur's opening match in Abu Dhabi drew lots of attention from the locals and Arab people, who gave a very strong support to the Tunisian. While Raducanu isn't a home player in the Middle East, she also received strong support during the match.
After beating Raducanu, Jabeur took a moment to acknowledge how much it means for her to be a good ambassador for Arab tennis.
"I try to show the best of me on and off the court. I come from a very small country that has a lot of potential," Jabeur said after starting her Abu Dhabi run with a win.
"I'm very proud to be a Tunisian and an Arab woman to show nothing is impossible."
What Raducanu said after losing to Jabeur?
Early in the match, Raducanu missed out on some opportunities and that landed her in trouble. In the opening game of the match, Raducanu missed out on two consecutive game points as Jabeur started the match with a break. The same thing happened in the fifth game as Raducanu had two consecutive game points but Jabeur still claimed a break in that game.
With Jabeur leading 5-1, Raducanu refused to quit and managed to win the next three games. But after saving two set points in the eighth game and two more in the ninth game, Raducanu couldn't get the second break back as well as Jabeur converted her fifth set point on her serve in the 10th game.
After losing the first set, Raducanu started the second set by serving out the opening game. But then, Raducanu didn't convert a game point in the third game as Jabeur earned the first break of the second set and that was the start of the end for the Briton. Jabeur also earned breaks in the fifth and seventh games to win six games in a row and complete a two-set win in a very impressive way.
Following her defeat, Raducanu candidly admitted she just wanted to forget her performance versus Jabeur.
"It was a tough match. Ons is a difficult opponent so credit to her, she played really well and it's just a match that personally I need to forget about," Raducanu said afterward.
"She's a great opponent, she has amazing hand skills, makes life really hard for you on the court and especially with the balls which are really heavy. Her defensive skills are great and I think that's something I can improve on too."
Addressing her upcoming plans, Raducanu revealed she is hoping to play at the opening WTA 1000 tournament of the season in Doha next week. If Raducanu gets a Doha wildcard and competes in Qatar next week, it will be her debut appearance at the tournament.
Meanwhile, Raducanu is 3-3 through her opening three tournaments of the year. Raducanu's 2024 record may not be the best but the 21-year-old has showed some promising signs in her return and most importantly she is playing without any pain or discomfort.