NEW YORK: I reached the quarter-finals of the US Open for the first time in my career and did so thanks to a tough win over Veronika Kudermetova at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday night.
It’s never easy playing Veronika. She hits really hard and serves really well. But as soon as I found my rhythm and penetrated the court a little more, it was much better for me. I was more aggressive and I followed the tactics put in place by my trainer Issam (Jellali). I think it helped me a lot. Just like the belief I had that I could come back after a breakdown. It was very, very important. I think I played the tie-break very well and I was the better player in the important points.
I was smiling a lot on the court today because I was watching everyone dancing in the stands. At some points I went full power on my shots and hit so many lines, which I usually never do. In fact, it’s usually the opposite and it’s my opponents who hit the lines against me. I’m really happy to have won this victory and I hope I can continue to play this way because I like the way I play at the moment.
It was my first game at Arthur Ashe Stadium since 2017 when I played against Coco Vandeweghe. At the time, I was a different player, I mainly wanted to go on the pitch, play a good game and that’s it. Today there was a lot of pressure, but I still managed to enjoy myself on the court. I really wanted to win against Veronika, someone I had never beaten before in the previous three encounters, which was extra pressure.
In addition to playing the night session, it was not the same. I usually play at 11 a.m. so my schedule completely changed and I had to adapt because usually at 10 p.m. I’m sleeping in my bed, not preparing for a match. I am happy to have adapted to all the difficulties that surrounded me. Without a doubt, the atmosphere on the pitch, as soon as I walked in, the crowd encouraged me, kind of helped me and gave me enough energy.
The legendary Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was in my player box today. She was there as a supportive friend, nothing more. We talk to each other from time to time and she gives me very good advice. It’s so nice to talk to her and to have someone like her follow me and support me. The first time we met was in Charleston this year and I immediately felt like we had known each other for years.
I watched a bit of the Nick Kyrgios-Daniil Medvedev game that was happening before me. They had crazy points. I joked with a reporter who asked me if I was watching, and maybe I was inspired by Nick’s serve because I served amazing today.
I was mostly watching the other match that was happening at the same time between Ajla Tomljanovic and Liudmila Samsonova. I don’t know why but today I served really, really well. When I trained with Serena Williams before the tournament, I asked her to leave her serve behind. Now that she is evolving away from the sport, she no longer needs it. So who knows, maybe she really let me have her service and it helped me somehow.
My next opponent Ajla is a tough, physical player and it’s going to be a physical game between us. I will try to play like today. It’s not easy to play it, I know that, but I hope the public will be with me.
I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking about my late grandmother a lot recently, she was on my mind. I kept asking her for help during my fourth round match with Veronika, especially in the last match. I wish she were there to see how successful I have been and how far I have progressed. She has always supported me and I really miss her.
US Open balls have been a hot topic this year, with many players, including world number one Iga Swiatek, noting the fact that we are playing with a different ball than the men’s here in New York. Some girls texted me about this issue and I told them I was the worst person anyone could ask about it. I adapt very quickly. If you ask me to play with pebbles, I will play with pebbles. I do not have any problems.
Some players like balls, some don’t. Apparently they weigh the same, it’s just that the pressure is higher in a ball. Obviously, if you take into account doubles and mixed doubles, it is much easier to play with the same balls in all three events, and if we play with the same balls as the men in each Grand Slam, it makes sense to play with the same here. at the US Open. So I told them you girls decide and if you feel like it, we can try and see what happens.
For me, I will adapt no matter what, and even if you ask me to change rackets, I will.
*Tunisian world number 5 Ons Jabeur was talking to Reem Abulleil in New York following her fourth-round win over Veronika Kudermetova in the early hours of Monday morning*