‘You have to stop finding excuses’

Ons Jabeur made it back-to-back Wimbledon quarter-finals after edging past Elise Mertens 7-6(9) 6-4.

The Tunisian showcased her now customary box of tricks on the SW19 grass, and eventually prevailed in 1 hour and 45 minutes over her 24th-seeded opponent.

In her on-court interview, Jabeur reflected not only on the tough test Mertens had provided, but also on how her run at Wimbledon – and her many successes this year – may continue to inspire those from similar backgrounds as her.

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“The match was both [stressful and enjoyable],” she said.

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“Mertens is a great opponent; it’s never easy to play her. I had to dig deep in the tie-break. I couldn’t imagine myself playing three sets against her.

“It [being unbeaten on grass, after winning her only warm-up tournament in Berlin] is good. Preparing on grass is always amazing; I try to have fun. I try to play a little bit of football on the field.

“It’s amazing to be here and [I want] to continue playing here.

“I want to give the message [that it’s OK to fail and succeed in tennis] to the younger generation. I want to see children believe more in themselves and believe that they can be here.

“I don’t come from a rich family, so you have to stop finding excuses, go for it and be yourself, and enjoy playing tennis.”

The match began with both players showing signs of nerves, as three breaks of serve came and went in succession.

That left Jabeur in the ascendancy initially but she was pegged back by Mertens in game eight, and the set went to a nail-biting breaker.

Despite being 6-3 down, somehow Jabeur fought back and took it 11-9 to deal her Belgian rival a significant psychological blow.

More breaks followed at the start of the second as the encounter remained nip and tuck, and matters were level right up until game 10.

But Jabeur seized the moment, taking her first match point opportunity when a Mertens’ double fault handed the tie to the Tunisian.

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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.

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