PARIS (Reuters) – Tunisian Ons Jabeur has been marked as one of the big threats to world number one Iga Swiatek at the French Open this year and the 27-year-old is certainly not lacking in belief.
Currently ranked at a career-high sixth, Jabeur won 11 straight matches before falling to 2020 Roland Garros winner Swiatek in the final of the WTA 1000 event in Rome last week.
It was the 28th consecutive victory for Swiatek, who is considered an overwhelming favourite to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup for a second time on the Parisian clay this year.
But no player has won more matches on clay this year than Jabeur, who triumphed at the Madrid Open and was also runner-up in the WTA 500 clay event in Charleston.
“I stand by what I said earlier, that you should believe that you can win against players that have great momentum like Iga right now,” Jabeur told reporters on Friday.
“But the most important thing is to focus on yourself rather than who you are playing. If you are playing a great player you can start being stressed or overwhelmed with the image of that player. I think everybody has to focus on their self and believe they can beat great players.”
Jabeur said her main goal was to make it to the second week of the claycourt major and she will be happy if she managed to reach the semi-finals in Paris.
She credited her improved fitness for her recent results and said she wanted three things from tennis at the start of the season: to be top five, win more titles, and win a Grand Slam.
“I’m getting there in all those three,” she said with a smile. “But I don’t want to put the bad pressure on myself that I have to do it this year.
“But I always believe that I can win a Grand Slam, and I feel like this season could be the right one hopefully. I’m putting it out there, just in case.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Martyn Herman)