Jabeur, the world No. 5, has learnt to tackle semifinal rounds — as she demonstrated in ending Caroline Garcia’s 13-match winning streak for the loss of just four games at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, but playing finals is a different ballgame, it asks for more. Reserves and range. Face your fears.
“The most important thing is to accept that I’m playing a big final and accept all the emotions that will come my way,” said Jabeur, who pointed at her mental health coach Frenchwoman Melanie Maillard, who has helped her grow both as a person and professional. “I’m very lucky that I have Melanie with me, she’s going to help me go through this along with my team. The way I’m playing, I feel like it’s going to be a great final for me.” Jabeur, the first African woman in the Open Era to reach US Open title round, said she knows what to expect this time.
“At Wimbledon, I was kind of living the dream, and I couldn’t believe it,” the amiable Tunisian said, “But now I’m getting used to it, happy with the fact that I backed up the results I had in Wimbledon. People are not really surprised that I’m in the finals anymore, but I’m just going and going, doing my thing.
“Now I know what to do in the finals. I know it’s going to be very difficult, but I’m going to have to put up my best now.”
The crafty Tunisian, who has clocked 34 aces en route to the final here, has learnt to back her strengths.
“Everybody could evolve and be a better person. For me, I was trying to be a better person on and off the court,” she said of her steady progress to the top of the crop on the WTA Tour.
“The most important thing that helped me be the player I am today is really understand myself. Sometimes I had coaches telling me things, and deep inside I didn’t believe that was the right thing to do.” Jabeur, who started working with Bertrand Perret in early 2018, was ranked just inside the top-80 when they parted ways two years later. She signed on Issam Jellali, the Tunisian Davis Cup -per, a little over two years ago, and earlier this summer was ranked No. 2. “I had to follow my gut,” she said. “I surrounded myself with people who believed in me and my game, that’s when I became the player that I am today.”