Ons Jabeur recently explained how she managed to turn the tables against Top 10 opponents and become part of them.
Jabeur, 29, is the highest-ranked African and Arab tennis player across both tours. She peaked at a career-high ranking of World No. 2 two years ago. But her transformation needed a complete shift in perspective, luck, and working with the sharpest minds in the sport.
The Tunisian was a guest on Reem Abulleil's podcast "Abtal," along with Egyptian WTA player Mayar Sherif. Jabeur shared snippets of her storied rise and how one moment in 2019 shaped her into the player she is today.
Five seasons ago, Jabeur was a Top 100 player, peaking at a best ranking of No. 51. She had lost seven of her 10 matches against Top 10 opponents up to that point when that record triggered a moment of evaluation together with her coach.
"For me, there was a certain turning point in 2019, I was playing good, I had a good ranking around 50 or 30 and I looked at my coach and I was like, 'I'm sick of losing against top 10 players even though I know that I can be a top 10 player. I've beaten them so many times, and I believe my level is there."
Jabeur was convinced that her level was not only sufficient to beat the Top 10 players but also to be ranked a lot higher than World No. 51. At the 2020 Australian Open, she reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, and as she tells Reem Abulleil in the podcast, her mindset changed.
"As soon as I said I want to be a top 10 player, that became my goal. I'm going to do everything for it. For some reason, my mentality changed, and doors started opening in front of me. I met some people along the way who helped me a lot."
"The turning point was when I made the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, the first time I went deep into the second week. That was a changing point, and the moment, I decided 'enough is enough,' many things changed for me."
Since that moment, Jabeur went on to rack up five WTA titles and has attained a Top 10 year-end ranking for three consecutive years between 2021 and 2023. She has added 13 more victories against Top 10 opponents. The Tunisian has also headlined three Grand Slam finals, but the ultimate prize has eluded her.