DOHA, Qatar -- Wildcard Ons Jabeur continued her breakthrough season, as the Australian Open quarterfinalist earned a noteworthy 6-3, 6-2 victory over frequent rival Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic in the first round of the Qatar Total Open 2020.
Jabeur, currently ranked at a career-high No.45, had never made it past the first round in her five previous main-draw showings at Doha. Moreover, she had lost all of her four previous main-draw encounters with Siniakova in their head-to-head, including squandering a match point in their most recent meeting at 2018 Wimbledon, which the Czech won 9-7 in the final set.
The Tunisian comprehensively ended both of those streaks with a 70-minute victory over her 58th-ranked foe on Sunday. Jabeur had 18 winners to Siniakova's 11 during the clash, and broke the Czech four times while only dropping serve once.
"Being here in Qatar, my first singles win, I'm really happy with that," Jabeur said to the press, after her win. "I'm really glad the way I played, really happy with my performance."
"I put in my mind that I want to be in Top 20, and I think I'm going in the right track," Jabeur stated. "Most important thing is to improve my game, I see that I'm better with holding the stress or with managing some points. So I think I can really play better and maybe like really, really play and win a good tournament."
"I know my character, if I put something in my mind, I just do it," Jabeur added. "For me, if I put myself in this position to be one of the best players in the world, then I think it's going to happen and I have a pretty good feeling about this season."
Jabeur got off to a flying start in the tilt, forcing errors from the Czech to open up a sturdy 4-1 lead. However, Siniakova fired an ace to hold for 4-2 and stop the run of games by Jabeur. The Tunisian then missed three straight forehands to give Siniakova triple break point in the next game, which the Czech took on the first chance after a Jabeur dropshot went awry.
Back on serve at 4-3, Siniakova became involved in a lengthy game on her delivery, where she was unable to convert either of her two game points. Jabeur eventually took the game on her third break point, grasping the break advantage once more at 5-3.
Now serving for the set, Jabeur let three set points slip away before winning a 22-shot rally to queue up a fourth opportunity. On that occasion, the Tunisian forced an error with a fierce forehand to wrap up the opening set.
Jabeur started the second set on a mission, quickly racing to triple break point in the very first game, then converting the second of that trio after a long forehand by the Czech. Siniakova did well to save a break point in her next service game, but was not as fortunate the next time around, as Jabeur punched a winning volley to open up another 4-1 lead.
The Tunisian would not cede any service games in the second set, saving two break points en route to a hold for a commanding 5-1 advantage. Two games later, Jabeur closed out the win after Siniakova fired a service return long on the wildcard’s first match point.
Jabeur’s second-round opponent will be the winner of the all-American affair between No.13 seed Alison Riske and last week’s Dubai semifinalist Jennifer Brady.