MADRID, Spain — World No.10 Ons Jabeur doubled up on her celebrations on Monday at the Mutua Madrid Open. The Tunisian trailblazer found her form to earn her first win over Belinda Bencic, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to advance to her first Madrid quarterfinal. The victory came on Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan.
“It’s two parties,” Jabeur told reporters when asked about winning on Eid. “Some people were telling me, ‘It’s Eid, you have to win today,’ I was trying my best.”
Jabeur and her team, which includes husband Karim Kamoun and coach Issam Jellali, began the day by going to a mosque in Madrid to pray. Jabeur said the day brings memories of her childhood, gorging on candy and enjoying the tradition of collecting money from adults.
“It’s Eid, so you have to give me money,” Jabeur laughed. “You don’t have to, but you have to, you know? I called my mom, and I was like, where’s my money? I may be 27, but who’s counting?
“For me, the fact that we are with family, go from house to house to say ‘Eid Mubarak’ to all the families, it brings great memories. Unfortunately, I’ve been on the road for years now so I don’t have time to do it.”
“It brings up a good memory and to be able to win on this day was special.”
Jabeur’s win over Bencic was her first over the Swiss in three meetings and avenged last month’s loss in the Charleston final. Even more pleasing for Jabeur was the fact that her scratchy opening wins in Madrid finally gave way to her top-flight game.
“I want to continue this way,” Jabeur said. “I’m really sick of the quarterfinals, so my goal is to go further and, hopefully, why not be in the finals here?”
This week, in addition to her regular team, Jabeur’s psychologist Melanie Maillard is also in Madrid. When Jabeur enjoyed an inspired run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals last summer, Maillard was also in her box. She tallied wins over Garbiñe Muguruza and Iga Swiatek along the way.
“We usually speak on WhatsApp or chat online, but I don’t like the virtual world too much, so I try to bring her as much as I can, but she probably has other athletes,” Jabeur said.
“I know I just need her from time to time. I don’t really need her always because a phone call can be easy and enough for me. I felt like I needed to have her [here]. Being surrounded by two guys all the time is not good, so having a woman in my team is good.”
After No.1 Swiatek’s withdrawal and a flurry of upsets through the opening week, Jabeur finds herself as the highest-ranked player remaining in Madrid. But given the presence of players like US Open champion Emma Raducanu, Bianca Andreescu, and Victoria Azarenka, the idea that the draw has weakened is a fallacy.
Jabeur knows that all too well. Next, she will face former No.1 Simona Halep, who tallied her 30th main draw win in Madrid with a straight-set win over Coco Gauff. The win over Gauff came two days after a dominating performance to knock out No.2 Paula Badosa. The two-time champion has not lost a set this week.
“I’m going for my revenge because we played in Dubai and she played really well,” Jabeur said. “It’s frustrating when someone takes control over me.
“I’m going to go for the win and hopefully be fired up like today. I love the attitude from today, so we’re going for the same attitude.”
Breaking fast, getting a Top 20 win, and making her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal on clay in one of her favorite cities? Jabeur said she might celebrate with a nice steak dinner with her team, but not before rolling the dice on one more wish: Tickets to Real Madrid’s Champions League match against Manchester City on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I don’t have any tickets or anything, but I know a nice person named Rafael Nadal who has access,” Jabeur said.
“I’m just going to put it out there: Rafa, if you need a plus one or two or three – because my coach and husband want to go – you can ask them to put us at the same time and then we can go together to support Real Madrid against Man City.
“They need me, come on. Hala Madrid!”