There is a great opportunity for one of Sofia Kenin and Ons Jabeur on Day 9 at the Australian Open as the pair face off for a place in a first grand slam semi-final. Neither player had made the last 8 before this while Jabeur had not been in a fourth round slam match in her career.
Jabeur is the first Arab woman to go this far in a slam, securing her place with a 7-6 6-1 victory over Qiang Wang. The Tunisian has a fascinating game with plenty of variety in shot selection but does have the power to match as her 29 winners in victory showed. She has had to deal with a fairly tough draw to get this far with her fourth round victory being added to a opening round win against Johanna Konta to make it four straight top 50 wins. “I was actually not that nervous as the last matches,” said Jabeur, who lost to the Chinese as recently as this month 6-0 6-3.. “She’s obviously better ranked than me. We played few times and she won, so less stress. But I tried to actually win this time because it was frustrating every time when she wins very easy.”
Kenin’s breakthrough at a slam has come this year after a promising 2019 that saw her trouble some of the top players and brought her three titles. She hasn’t had the most difficult of runs to get to this stage but a surging Cori Gauff was dismissed with relative ease after a poor start, coming through in three sets 6-7 6-3 6-0. “I felt like I wasn’t returning so well. I missed a few opportunities. Of course, she served really well.” she said on the match. “I knew I needed to somehow try and break her serve and hold my serve. I think I served pretty good overall, which obviously helped me. Yeah, I’m happy I was able to do that because her serve, it wasn’t easy.”
Kenin will go into this one as the favourite, hoping to book a place in the semis where either Petra Kvitova or Ashleigh Barty await. The American is a strong counterpuncher and will look to nullify her opponents power early on as she did in two matches last year. Kenin leads the head to head 3-1 with the pair splitting matches on the ITF tour when neither was a top 100 player.
Prediction – Sofia Kenin in three sets