10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ons Jabeur Returns to Australian Open with Clear Goal

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia plays for her third straight Grand Slam final and first major crown in Melbourne. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur lifted a drop shot that splashed across the net with all the weight of a soap bubble.

In her pre-tournament practice, the woman nicknamed Minister of Happiness looked enthused to be back in her happy place.

Knocked out of the 2022 Australian Open with a back injury, world No. 2 Jabeur returns to the Australian Open in a positive head space with a clear plan for 2023.

Jabeur, who reached successive Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, aims for a third straight major final with a clear goal in mind for 2023: Win her first Grand Slam.

Don’t lose any more major finals and win her first Grand Slam crown.

“I will try to use that experience from last year because it was kind of tough,” told the media in Melbourne in her pre-tournament presser. “My goal is to not lose any more finals, but just use that to be ready for the next one.”

The veteran Jabeur, who owns a 3-7 finals record, including losing four finals in 2022, knows creating closure is vital to reaching her major goals.

“I want to be No. 1 in the world, not just the number but also the level and the discipline around it,” Jabeur said. “I want to win more titles and get that Grand Slam title, for sure.”

The second-seeded Jabeur opens against 2021 Roland Garros semifinalist Tamara Zidansek with the winner facing either Alison Riske-Amritraj or former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova.

In five Melbourne Park appearances, Jabeur has surpassed the third round only once with a career-best quarterfinal run in 2020. Jabeur’s ability to shift spins and speeds of her shots, her skill closing in the front court and the fact she can shorten up her backswings should serve her well in her return.

Given Jabeur is not defending any points in Melbourne Park, she’s hoping to swing freely and apply her variety shrewdly. 

“I feel like there is not a lot of pressure on me on this tournament,” Jabeur said. “I’m just going to try to play my game, just be there match by match, see what’s going to happen.”

Jabeur has reached career milestones in each of the last two years. She won her first WTA title on grass at the 2021 Birmingham, collected her first Masters championship on clay in Madrid last May, then beat buddy Tatjana Maria 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 to become the first Tunisian, first Arab and first African woman to reach a major final at Wimbledon.

The woman who dreams big reinforces major visualization daily as she uses Grand Slam trophies as her screen saver shot.

“It’s always great for me that I tell you guys what I want to achieve, I tell you my goals,” Jabeur told the media. “I put it out there, make a promise to you guys. I hate to break my promises. I see it that way.

“I tell you guys I want to win Grand Slams. Okay, you’re expecting me to win. I can’t disappoint you.”