Ons Jabeur: Tunisia tennis queen reaches maiden WTA 1000 final in Madrid after 'emotional match'
Tunisian tennis queen and eighth seed Ons Jabeur advanced to the biggest final of her career with an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova in Madrid on Thursday.
Jabeur followed up wins against Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and former world number one Simona Halep with just her second success in eight meetings with Alexandrova to move into a maiden WTA 1000 final.
"It was a very emotional match. For those who don't know, I have a 1-6 record against her. So it was a tough match mentally," said Jabeur.
"But I'm glad that I pulled the win today. I played really good, I was ready for the right moments and hopefully I can continue playing at this level for the final."
The first Arab player in history to secure a top-10 professional ranking, Jabeur awaits the winner of the semi-final between American 12th seed Jessica Pegula and Swiss lefty Jil Teichmann.
In the men's event, former world number one Murray was forced to pull out of his last-16 match against Djokovic, citing food poisoning.
It would have been the 37th meeting between Murray and current world number one Djokovic, but the first since they played each other in the Doha final in January 2017.
Djokovic, a three-time champion in Madrid, now moves directly into a quarter-final against Polish number 12 seed Hubert Hurkacz, who knocked out Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-3.
Sixth seed Andrey Rublev reached the seventh Masters 1000 quarter-final of his career with a 7-6(9/7), 7-5 result against Dan Evans of Great Britain.
Rublev bounced back from 1-3 down in the opening set, and saved a set point in the tiebreak before securing a lead in one hour and 15 minutes.
In the second set, Rublev saw an early service break lead wiped by Evans before he made a late move in the 11th game to wrap up a hard-fought victory, his third in five meetings with the Brit.
Tunisian tennis trailblazer Ons Jabeur retired hurt during the Sydney Classic semi-finals on Thursday, days before the Australian Open beginshttps://t.co/ptBEPFNXcV— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) January 13, 2022
The Russian finished the match with 46 winners, 34 of which came off the forehand wing.
Rublev, who was also tested in his opener against Jack Draper, admits it has been a "stressful" tournament for him so far, despite arriving to the Spanish capital fresh from a title run in Belgrade.
"I'm going on court thinking for sure today I'm going to do everything and I will be calm and then I'm doing really stupid and easy mistakes that make no sense," said Rublev
"Then I manage somehow to calm down and at the end starts these roller coasters."
Rublev will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Grigor Dimitrov in the next round.