December 16, 2022
Ons Jabeur can look forward to an exciting 2023 after defending her Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) title with victory of 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, at the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City.
Just 12 months after becoming the first Arab to play at, and win, the MWTC, Tunisian ace Jabeur retained her title in the women’s match on Day 1 of the 14th edition, with a 5-7, 6-3, (10)-(8) victory over Raducanu. In doing so, she becomes the first to woman to win back-to-back MWTC titles.
Jabeur, who reached back-to-back Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open this year, was put under pressure by her younger opponent before finally taking a marathon 9-minute opening game. Jabeur took brief control of the first set, breaking the Brit’s serve in game four for a 3-1 lead again for a 5-3 advantage, but a gritty Raducanu came roaring back, winning the next five games to take the first set.
Set two started with both players holding serve through the first five games before an error from debutant Raducanu in game six allowed World No.2 Jabeur to break for a lead she would not relinquish, closing out the set 6-3 to send the match to a third set super tiebreak. Clearly enjoying herself on court, Jabeur tried whipping up the Abu Dhabi crowd and traded some fine shots with her opponent throughout the super tiebreak before serving out the match with an ace.
“I tried to remember to have a bit more fun on the court because that’s when I played my best and I did that. There were a lot of Arab people out there supporting me and that was great, it was so much fun. This is my second year coming here, I really enjoy playing on this court, I’m ready to come back next year,” said Jabeur.
For her part, Raducanu added: “I’ve had an amazing experience, really enjoyed playing on this court in a great environment. So impressed. The fans were cheering Ons a bit more, but I like that. It was great fun. I was happy with my performance, and it was a good playing against Ons in a really enjoyable atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, in the first match of the day Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the MWTC final on his debut in 2019, beat Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-4, to secure a Saturday semi-final against Norway’s Casper Ruud. World No.4 Tsitsipas was in dominant form throughout, taking a 3-0 lead. Norrie held his serve to win game four, but Tsitsipas was in the groove to take out the opening set. Set two went with serve until game nine when British No. 1 Norrie was broken, with Tsitsipas holding firm with his own serve in the next game to seal a commanding victory.
“I had a few of my friends attend and it was a pleasure to play in front of them. It’s great to be experiencing crowds like this again and have no restrictions on and off the court. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the court [on Saturday] and working on my game against great opposition. I am going to play my best and try to enjoy it and the rest will fall into place,” said Tsitsipas after his victory.
In the second men’s quarter-final of the day, defending MWTC champion Andrey Rublev edged a step closer to retaining his title with a 7-6, 6-4 victory of Croatia’s Borna Coric, and will play World No. 1, Carlos Alcaraz, who will be making his Middle East debut.
In a tight first opening the players dug deep, trading powerful serves and baseline drives, with the set going a tie break and Rublev staying focused to take it 7-4. The second set was a similarly tight encounter, before Rublev broke the Coric serve in game nine and held serve in the next to wrap up victory.
“It was a good match for both of us, especially knowing that we arrived just one day ago and to adapt that fast to these conditions and play a good match for me and Borna, who had some good rallies and played aggressively, so I had to perform well and played aggressively. I was proud to keep calm and not show any emotions. It was a solid match for both of us,” said the defending champion. “There were a lot of fans out there today, which is great for this championship and our sport.”
The last remaining tickets for days 2 and 3 of the 14h Mubadala World Tennis Championship can be purchased on the event’s official website www.mubadalawtc.com, with Premier Hospitality tickets for day 2 already sold out.