A Fan Favorite Is Still Trying to Clear Her Major Hurdle

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Jabeur developed into an elite player relatively late in her career, and did not break into the top 20 of the singles rankings until Aug. 16, 2021. Her 29th birthday is Monday, the day before she faces Camila Osorio, a Colombian ranked 68th, in the first round of the U.S. Open. It is realization that helps her cope with the disappointment of going 0-3 in major finals. Sometimes, it just takes time.

Always ready with a quick one-liner and often poking fun at herself and others in a playful way, Jabeur elicits smiles wherever she goes. At the recent tournament near Cincinnati, Iga Swiatek, the world’s top-ranked player, lamented the vicious messages she receives on social media after certain matches, often from disgruntled gamblers. They will sometimes lash out at players, even after the players win, because it was not by enough to win a bet. Swiatek said she had received abuse for winning a match in three sets instead of two.

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“I believe these people should not exist,” Jabeur said in support, then added, “But, yeah, next time, Iga, don’t lose a set.”

She was joking, of course. And she is one of the few players who can make such a comment without incurring the wrath of fellow players. They know how she is and recognize her wit. Before she lost to Aryna Sabalenka in a quarterfinal on Aug. 18 in Ohio, Jabeur referenced her victory over Sabalenka at Wimbledon a month earlier.

“I know she didn’t forgive me for Wimbledon semifinals,” Jabeur said with a smile.

But when the match commenced, Jabeur injured her right foot. An athletic trainer taped it tightly and Jabeur finished the match, but she was not moving well, raising concerns for how she would fare at this U.S. Open, where she is seeded fifth. Sabalenka, despite their rivalry and despite Jabeur’s cheeky comment about not being forgiven for Wimbledon, was sympathetic toward her popular opponent.

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