World No. 2 Ons Jabeur withstood a daunting challenge from 24th seed Elise Mertens to advance to her second straight Wimbledon quarter-final, beating the Belgian 7-6(9), 6-4 in the fourth round . Jabeur will face Czech Marie Bouzkova for a spot in her first major semi-final.
Jabeur remains undefeated on grass: With the exit of world number one Iga Swiatek in the third round, the 27-year-old Tunisian took over as the highest-ranked player in the draw. Champion in Berlin two weeks ago, Jabeur is now 9-0 on grass this season.
“Hopefully I can continue the streak,” Jabeur said. “I love playing on grass. I love the connection between nature and me. Hopefully that can continue until the final.”
Passing in the clutch: Mertens entered the fourth round after saving match points in the second round against Panna Udvardy. She played loose, positive tennis to oust 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the third round and looked set to be upset by Jabeur.
The Tunisian earned the break in the opening set but Mertens’ consistency proved a difficult puzzle for Jabeur to solve all day. Jabeur led 4-2 in the first set only to see Mertens tie her up to level the set at 4-4. By the time the set reached the tie-break, it was Mertens who was steadily dictating from the baseline.
This constant aggression from the baseline earned Mertens a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak before Jabeur made a furious comeback. In all, Jabeur played four perfect points to save four set points. She closed the 60-minute set on her second set point, winning one of the game’s longest rallies – 16 shots – to take the tie-break 11-9.
“She’s a really great opponent,” Jabeur said. “It’s never easy to play her and I had to dig really deep in the tie-break. I couldn’t imagine myself playing three sets against her.”
The second set went the same way as the first. Again, Jabeur got an early break only for Mertens to collect him and stay level with world No.2. But serving at 4-5, Mertens couldn’t get out of a 15-30 hole. On Jabeur’s first match point, Mertens scored his only double fault of the day to end the game.