Second seed Ons Jabeur suffered a major scare against world No.98 Tamara Zidansek in the first round of the Australian Open but prevailed 7-6(8) 4-6 6-1.
The intense first set lasted 68 minutes and both players had three set points, the difference being that Jabeur converted her third to edge Zidansek in a tiebreak. Two-time Grand Slam finalist Jabeur went from a break down to a 4-1 lead in the opening set, but Zidansek crawled back to 4-4, earning a crucial break when the Tunisian netted a backhand. In the ninth game, Zidansek saved a set point and the battle continued into a tiebreak.
The first to have her big chances in the tiebreak was Zidansek, who earned two set points at 6-4 as Jabeur made two consecutive forehand unforced errors. The outcome was very uncertain, especially as we knew that Zidansek was the one who prevailed in their previous meeting, in qualifying at Rome 2019.
Failing to take her big chance, the underdog faced another set point herself, but saved it again to level the score at 7-7. Once more Zidansek had a chance to take a one-set lead in this match, but favorite Jabeur hung in there and got over the edge on her next opportunity.
In the much calmer second set, Zidansek established a 5-3 lead. Even though Jabeur managed to take a break back right away, the Slovenian earned set points in the next game, on Jabeur’s serve, and finally converted one.
After she held serve to open the decider, Zidansek’s game disappeared and Jabeur closed the match with a love hold. At one point it seemed that Jabeur would crumble, but in the end it was her opponent who evaporated from the court.