2021 Viking Classic

Jabeur nets historic success in Birmingham

Ons Jabeur, 2021 Viking Classic Birmingham Women's Singles Champion

Tunisian becomes first Arab to clinch a WTA Tour crown

Ons Jabeur’s 90-minute triumph to claim her maiden WTA Tour single title also made the history books, courtesy of her thrilling 7-5 6-4 victory over Daria Kasatkina.

The no.2 seed from Tunisia, who had lost her two previous shots in a final, made no mistake to see off the Russian star and pick up the impressive accolade of becoming the first ever Arab to win a WTA Tour crown.

A cat-and-mouse opening set was full of crafty shots, high octane groundshots and solid serving. Yet there were constant breaks as the both went at full throttle for glory.

Jabeur seemed the most determined of the pair, which became apparent when she broke Kasatkina for a second time with a cunning drop shot and an error-forcing lob to level matters at 3-3.

A thunderous crosscourt backhand at 5-3 handed world no.24 Jabeur triple set point, only for Kasatkina to fight back and show the class that has resulted in claiming a pair of WTA Tour titles already this year.

Jabeur surprisingly showed signs of nerves when presented with the opportunity to serve for the set at 5-4, and errors prevailed to square the contest.

But then world no.35 Kasatkina looked rooted to the spot as Jabeur moved through the gears to overwhelm her opponent by breaking her to love for a 6-5 lead, polishing off the game with a cheeky drop shot return.

Jabeur made no mistake with her service game, grabbing the set with a powerful backhand winner down the line.

With the bit between her teeth there was no stopping Jabeur, breezing into a 4-0 lead before being pegged back after a lapse of concentration. Kasatkina saved a break point then slammed down an ace to make it 4-1.

Kasatkina turned the tables with collected calmness and some pretty perfect shots to claw her way back into the encounter. At the other side of the net Jabeur had started playing cautiously that produced a string of errors, with the score reaching 4-3.

The pair each held their service game for 5-4, so Jabeur turned the screws by pouncing on every shot to hustle her opponent. This tactic worked a treat in the end, with Kasatkina making a hurried unforced error into the net to hand Jabeur an historic victory.

This was Jabeur’s 28th win in 2021, which equals the highest on the tour alongside world no.1 Ashleigh Barty from Australia.

The success was also a personal triumph as the Tunisian had lost to Kasatkina in their two previous meetings, at the 2018 Moscow final and in their 1st Round clash at the 2016 Olympics, when Jabeur had suffered a third set tiebreak defeat each time.

Delighted Jabeur beamed: “I knew I had to go for it, I had to win this title to give an example. There is not a lot of Tunisian or Arabic players playing [on the WTA Tour].”

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