Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur returns to the Australian Open on Tuesday determined to finally “get the Grand Slam title” that has so far eluded him.
The 28 year old player missed last year’s event in Melbourne through injury, but finished second at Wimbledon and the US Open, becoming the first African or Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the Open era.
Now ranked world number two, Jabeur has expressed her ambition to go further as she embarks on her campaign at Melbourne Park.
“I want to be number one in the world – not just the number, but also the level and the discipline around it – and I want to win more titles and get the Grand Slam title for sure.”
Jabeur lost the final to Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon and then to Iga Swiatek in New York – losses that gave him extra motivation.
“I will try to use this experience from last year because it was a bit difficult,” she said.
“My goal is not to lose any more finals, but to use this to be ready for the next one.
“The goal as second in the world is to be in the second week, to make finals.”
Jabeur’s first round match in Australia will feature Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, ranked 98th in the world.
Nicknamed the “Minister of Happiness” in her country of origin, where she is considered a source of inspiration, the Tunisian knows that much is expected of her in 2023.
“I like that kind of pressure. I’m going to put more pressure on myself because I feel like sometimes you just need that to be one of the best players,” she said.
Jabeur talked about keeping pictures of trophies on his cellphone’s lock screen to help him succeed.
When asked if the Australian Open trophy was the current photo, she gave a coy answer during her pre-tournament press conference.
“I don’t know if I can tell you that,” joked Jabeur.
“I’ll give you a hint. There’s a trophy over there. Actually, you know what, there’s a trophy in my phone and a trophy in my husband’s phone. So different.
“It’s always been great for me to tell you what I want to accomplish. I tell you my goals. I put it out there and it’s like I’m making a promise to you and I hate breaking my promises.”
As for her competition this year in Melbourne, says Jabeur, contrary to popular opinion, there aren’t many contenders for the women’s singles title.
“There are a lot of players to watch. I can name a few, but it’s not that open,” she said.
“I think five of them could definitely win this Slam, but five is not that open.”