Indian Wells: Ons Jabeur set to become first Arab tennis player to reach the top 10

Ons Jabeur

Having defeated Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya in the fourth round of Indian Wells, Ons Jabeur is now set to make history.

The Tunisian’s rise up the rankings in recent years has been remarkable, and after reaching the quarter-finals in California, she is projected to break into the top 10 when the WTA release their updated standings next week.

This will make Jabeur the first Arab tennis player, male or female, to reach the top 10 in rankings history.

It’s yet another unprecedented achievement by the 27-year-old, who also became the first Arab to reach a Grand-Slam quarter-final and the first to win a WTA title.

Her exploits on the tennis court have led to widespread recognition back home. Jabeur was named the Arab Woman of the Year in Sports in 2019 and became endorsed by Qatar Airways in 2020.

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Growing up in a small town in Tunisia called Ksar Hellal, Jabeur credits her mum for helping her achieve her tennis dream.

“My parents sacrificed a lot of things,” she told the WTA. My mum used to drive me everywhere around Tunisia to go play the tournaments, and she encouraged me to go to a special school to study. That was a big sacrifice to see her little girl going for a dream that, honestly, wasn't 100% guaranteed. She believed in me and gave me the confidence to be there”

Jabeur says she always told her mum she wanted to be the world number one and she is continuing to head in the right direction as that dream becomes an ever more achievable reality.

Indeed, her win against Kalinskaya on Tuesday night was her 47th victory of the season and she is perhaps the favourite to add a second WTA title to her name this week.

Ons Jabeur

Awaiting Jabeur in the last eight is Anett Kontaveit. The Estonian has won 16 of her last 17 matches and claimed two titles in Cleveland and Ostrava in the past month.

Jabeur’s form, however, is just as admirable. The Arab star reached the final of the Chicago Fall Classic last week and has beaten a number of the world’s best players this year, including Iga Świątek, Garbiñe Muguruza and Elina Svitolina.

Winning Indian Wells would be another statement of intent from the Tunisian and would further enhance her reputation as one of Africa’s most renowned sports personalities.

Above all though, Jabeur just hopes to be an idol for those from her country, who also aspire to be tennis players.

“I hope I can inspire the new generation. Not so many players from my country play. So if I’m here today, you guys can make it. Work hard, believe in yourself, and you’re gonna be there.”

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