US Open: The tornado Caroline Garcia seems unstoppable, but beware of Ons Jabeur and his magic in the semi

The context

We dreamed of it, she did it. By winning the WTA 1000 in Cincinnati in preparation for this US Open, Caroline Garcia had raised many hopes. But it’s another thing to be able to make them happen in a Grand Slam. Certainly, the French has not won anything yet, and it would be very unwise to put the cart before the horse. But seeing her in the last four of a Major is in itself an event: never before, not even in 2017 during her best season so far, had she managed to go so far. His next challenge will therefore be called Ons Jabeur.

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Finalist at Wimbledon, the Tunisian finally only confirms her status as a solid member of the world Top 5. But that doesn’t mean that performance should be trivialized. She could thus have suffered badly from her failure in the final on the lawn of the All England Club. Besides, his preparation for this North American tour did not bode well: an entry defeat in Toronto against Qinwen Zheng and two losses in the round of 16 in Cincinnati against Petra Kvitova and in the quarterfinals in San José against Veronika Kudermetova seriously broke his momentum.

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But like a champion, she knew how to raise the bar when the event demanded it. Result: she lost only one set on her way to the semi-finals, even if she benefited from a table within her reach with only one Top 20 discarded: Kudermetova precisely, against whom she therefore took nice revenge. His future opponent has done even better since Caroline Garcia has not yet conceded a single round.

In the way the Frenchwoman dismisses her adversaries one after the other bluntly, there is a bit of Emma Raducanu last year. Except that at 28, the Frenchwoman seems to have much more control over what she does in the sense that she fully assumes this ultra-offensive bias that she has put in place over the past three months. Full of confidence and visibly happy on the court, she will nevertheless face another challenge with the tennis all in variations of Jabeur. We salivate in advance.

Face to face

The two players have crossed swords twice, moreover in Grand Slam and each time on hard court for the same result: a victory for Ons Jabeur who therefore leads 2-0. She won in the 1st round of the 2019 US Open (7-6, 6-2) and in the 2nd of the 2020 Australian Open (1-6, 6-2, 6-3).

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Their journey

Ons Jabeur

1st round: beat Madison Brengle [E-U] 7-5, 6-2
2nd round: defeats Elizabeth Mandlik [E-U] 7-5, 6-2
3rd round: defeats Shelby Rogers [E-U/N.31] 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
1/8th final: defeats Veronika Kudermetova [RUS/N.18] 7-6(1), 6-4
1/4 final: defeats Ajla Tomljanovic [AUS] 6-4, 7-6(4)

Caroline Garcia

1st round: defeats Kamilla Rakhimova [RUS] 6-2, 6-4
2nd round: defeats Anna Kalinskaya [RUS] 6-3, 6-1
3rd round: defeats Bianca Andreescu [CAN] 6-3, 6-2
1/8 final: defeats Alison Riske-Amritraj [E-U/N.29] 6-4, 6-1
1/4 final: beat Cori Gauff [E-U/N.12] 6-3, 6-4

They said

Ons Jabeur: “I’m glad Caroline is back where she belongs. (among the best players, Editor’s note). She works with Bertrand (Perret) who was my coach before, so I’m happy for them in general. I know she plays very aggressive and very tough. We will see who will be able to impose their game.”

Caroline Garcia:Among the juniors, it was very rare to play someone who made so many drop shots and so many slices with his backhand (she faced Jabeur in the semi-finals of the Grand Slam for juniors, editor’s note). She put a lot of effects in her balls. It was already tricky to play against her. Now it is even more so. She is Top 5 in the world, she made the final at Wimbledon. She has improved a lot. It’s a big challenge.”

Jabeur: “I’m happy to see Caroline back in her place”

Three stats to remember

1. Ons Jabeur loves premieres. By beating Tomljanovic in the quarterfinals, she became the first African player to qualify for the semi-finals of the US Open, as she had been the first to play in a Grand Slam tournament final at Wimbledon.

10. Whatever happens in this semi-final, Caroline Garcia is already guaranteed to find the World Top 10 next Monday thanks to the defeat of Karolina Pliskova in the quarter. This will be a first for the French since the week of October 1, 2018, almost four years ago.

16. It had been sixteen years since any Frenchwoman had gone so far at the US Open. In 2006, Amélie Mauresmo reached the last four at Flushing Meadows, losing at this stage to Maria Sharapova. In Grand Slam, this had not happened since 2013 and the victorious course of Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon.

Our opinion

At this stage, everything is possible by definition. Especially in women’s tennis which has multiplied surprises in Grand Slams in recent years. But on closer inspection, this semi-final is not as surprising as that. It is even the result of two confirmations: that of the exceptional dynamics of Caroline Garcia for three months – she is the player who has won the most (31 victories) and by far (ahead of Simona Halep, 19 successes) – and that of the installation of Ons Jabeur in the gotha ​​of the WTA.

Dominating before finishing mentally, Jabeur qualifies for the semi-finals: the best moments

The question is therefore whether the Tunisian can oppose the irresistible rise of the French. Unquestionably, Garcia has been the more impressive player of the two during this fortnight. She walked on her opponents and withstood the pressure of an electric stadium in the quarter against Cori Gauff. If she manages to apply her ultra-aggressive game plan once more, she seems able to stifle Jabeur, as she has done with her previous opponents.

The variations of Jabeur, his slices, amortized and his sudden accelerations in forehand could disrupt the Lyonnaise. But will the Tunisian only have time to set up her tennis-champagne? Nothing is less sure. Especially since his second ball is very vulnerable and Garcia is on cloud nine at the moment. Elena Rybakina kind of showed the way to Garcia in the final of the last Wimbledon. If she continues on her way, Jabeur will find it difficult to resist, even if she has won their two previous duels. Because it is not the same Garcia as two or three years ago.

Our prediction: Caroline Garcia in two sets.

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US Open: The tornado Caroline Garcia seems unstoppable, but beware of Ons Jabeur and his magic in the semi-finals