Ons Jabeur is confident she knows how to beat Iga Swiatek as the two best players of the season prepare to battle it out for the final grand slam title.
Swiatek is a long way clear at the top of the rankings but Jabeur will climb from fifth to second after reaching her second successive slam final at the US Open.
The Tunisian swatted aside Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-3 in the semi-finals on Thursday night and is ready to learn from her Wimbledon experience, when she won the first set of the final against Elena Rybakina but lost out in three.
Jabeur has backed that up brilliantly in New York, and she said: “It feels more real just to be in the finals again. At Wimbledon I was kind of just living the dream, and I couldn’t believe it. Even after the match, I was just going to do my things and not realising it was an amazing achievement already.
“But now I hope I’m getting used to it. I’m just happy the fact that I backed up the results in Wimbledon and people are not really surprised I’m in the finals.
“I feel very positive about this one. The most important thing is not to regret, because I’m going to give it all on this one. Even if this one is not going to happen, I’m very sure that another one will come.”
Jabeur and Swiatek are tied at 2-2 from their four previous meetings but the Pole won their only match this year in the final in Rome in May.
“Iga never loses finals, so it’s going to be very tough,” said Jabeur. “I know she struggled a little bit with the balls here, but I don’t see her struggling much, to be honest with you.
“She’s playing awesome. It’s going to be a tough match. I’m definitely going for my revenge. I love playing on this surface, and I feel like I know exactly what to do against her.”
Dubbed the Minister of Happiness back home in Tunisia, where she revealed her popularity made her quarter-final a bigger draw than Champions League football, Jabeur thoroughly enjoyed herself on Arthur Ashe Stadium after a brief moment of silence to honour the Queen.
She has been beating Garcia since their junior days and the Frenchwoman just could not produce the same form she had showed to reach her first slam semi-final at the age of 28.
Garcia said: “Obviously nerves were there. I did know it was semi-finals, so you know what it’s bringing you if you win and what you want to achieve. It’s a dream since I’m a little girl.
“The beginning of the match was not great. I made a few mistakes in important points. The arms and the legs were not moving great. For my game, if I’m a little bit slower or if I don’t go for my shots, mistakes can come very quickly.”
The second semi-final was a much closer battle, with Swiatek coming from a set down and then 4-2 behind in the deciding set to beat sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-1 6-4.
Swiatek has not found the same form that carried her to a 37-match winning run earlier this season but she has battled and come up with her best when she has needed to.
“I’m pretty happy that even though maybe I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent perfectly from the beginning of the tournament, I was still able to get better and better and to play a really solid game,” she said.
“On clay, I feel just perfect. But for me actually winning when I’m not feeling perfectly, it’s the best kind of thing and best feeling. The satisfaction is pretty big.”
Swiatek is looking forward to locking horns again with Jabeur, saying: “She has a different game style than most of the players. She has great touch. She’s just a tough opponent. I think it’s going to be a great battle.”
Sabalenka became emotional in her press conference as she reflected on a third slam semi-final in 14 months and a third close defeat.
Wearing sunglasses and a cap that covered most of her face, the 24-year-old said: “I feel like in these three semi-finals I had so many opportunities and I didn’t use it. I guess I’m trying to think that everything happens for a reason, and I guess it just makes me really stronger.”
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