Ons Jabeur explains why she added Fernando Verdasco to her team for Madrid

On Thursday, Jabeur and Verdasco's Madrid collaboration got off to a winning start.

by Dzevad Mesic
Ons Jabeur explains why she added Fernando Verdasco to her team for Madrid
© Getty Images Sport - Denis Doyle

Ons Jabeur has revealed some of the reasons behind her decision to add Fernando Verdasco to her team for the 2024 Madrid Open as the Tunisian described the Spaniard as "a close friend" and cheekily suggested she'd love to learn that Spanish mentality on clay. 

Jabeur, the 2022 Madrid champion, kicked off her third appearance at Caja Magica with a 6-4 5-7 6-3 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. 

But one thing is a bit different in Jabeur's box this week in Madrid as Jabeur is not accompanied by her full-time coach Issam Jellali, who wasn't able to attend the tournament. With Jellali unable to make the trip, Jabeur turned to 2009 Australian Open semifinalist and former world No. 7 Verdasco, who retired from pro tennis last year.

"I’m trying to get the Spanish mentality on the clay, apparently it’s not that bad to play with that. We’re close friends and he just had his third baby, so we’re having the energy of a new baby in the team," Jabeur said.

"It’s nice to have him, I’ve always been a fan of him as a player, but also as a person because he has such amazing energy. He’s helping me this week, so hopefully we can have more matches together.”

Fernando Verdasco
Fernando Verdasco © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Jabeur's Madrid partnership with Verdasco off to a good start

Early in the first set, Jabeur blew a break but broke Schmiedlova again in the fifth game and then held on to her serve for the remainder of the set to clinch the opener.

While Jabeur winning the first set was never in question, the second set was full of turnarounds. After Schmiedlova started with a 2-0 lead, Jabeur responded by winning the next four games to go 4-2 up. But from 3-5 down and facing a loss, Schmiedlova went on to win the next four games and send the match into a decider.

After failing to close out the match in two sets, Jabeur bounced back and started the third set with back-to-back breaks. In the remainder of the set, Jabeur dropped her serve twice but it didn't change much since the Tunisian also claimed two more breaks en route to completing her three-set win.

Ons Jabeur
Ons Jabeur © Getty Images Sport - Denis Doyle

Jabeur plays Leylah Fernanded in her next match.

Ons Jabeur Fernando Verdasco