NEW YORK – Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur demolished Caroline Garcia in straight sets to become the first African woman in history to reach the final of the US Open on Thursday (Sept 9).

Fifth seed Jabeur dominated Garcia from start to finish of a one-sided semi-final at Arthur Ashe Stadium, winning 6-1, 6-3 in just 1hr 6min.

Garcia had not dropped a set in reaching the last four but immediately ran into problems as Jabeur broke her in the opening game before taking the first set in a blistering 23 minutes, with six aces and 11 winners.

Rolling into her first Grand Slam semi-final on a 13-match winning streak, Garcia was denied the most reliable tool in her arsenal – her big serve – and never had the momentum.

Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon this year and has become known as Tunisia’s “Minister of Happiness”, shouted with joy after she sent an unreturnable serve over the net for the win.

“It feels amazing. After Wimbledon there was a lot of pressure on me and I’m really relieved that I can back up my results,” she said. “The hard court season started a little bit bad but now I’m very happy that I made it to the finals here.”

Jabeur will play world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who rallied from a set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 and reach her first US Open final.

After a sluggish start, the Pole came alive in the second set and overcame an early break in the decider by winning the final four games to see off the powerful Belarusian.

“Against Aryna, you have to have the energy to push her back and be able to play those fast balls,” Swiatek said in an on-court interview.

“In the first set I lacked a little bit of that so I needed to get it together. Drink some energy shots and just kind of go with it. I’m pretty glad that I did that.”

Both Swiatek and Sabalenka came out tense under the lights on Thursday but the sixth seed settled in first, finding a service rhythm and dialing in her forehand against Swiatek, who has struggled at times in the past against big hitters.

Sabalenka consolidated a break with an ace for 4-2 and captured the first set when she snuck to the net behind a huge forehand and sent a volley past the charging Swiatek.

But Swiatek, who was forced to battle back from a set down in her fourth-round match against Jule Niemeier, raised her level in the second, serving much better and breaking Sabalenka three times to level the contest.

Sabalenka responded early in the third, her confidence growing when her blistering backhand knocked her opponent backwards and onto the court as she raced out to a 2-0 lead.

But the feisty Swiatek refused to give in, breaking back with a backhand winner to level at 4-4 and advanced to her first final in Flushing Meadows when Sabalenka’s backhand landed in the net.

The two-time French Open champion Swiatek will gun for her third Grand Slam title when she faces dynamic Tunisian Jabeur.

Swiatek and Jabeur are 2-2 in their four career meetings.

“It’s always tough and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be physical,” Swiatek said of Jabeur.

“She has such good hands, she is solid on the baseline and when she’s going in so I have to be careful.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. Right now, I’m just going to enjoy being in the final.” AFP, REUTERS

 

Last modified: September 9, 2022