STUTTGART, Germany -- Have we seen the last of the devastating Ons Jabeur drop shot? Not quite. But the World No.10 has kept her trademark shot in her back pocket at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where she is set to face No.3 Paula Badosa in the quarterfinals.
There will be no secrets between the two good friends, who are set to face for the fourth time in their careers. But Friday's meeting will be their first match this season, which means Badosa will face a new and improved Jabeur. The Tunisian revealed the season-ending elbow injury she sustained last fall forced her to revamp her backhand.
"I think I was forced to improve it because I literally couldn't do any slices," Jabeur told WTA Insider after her second-round win over Daria Kasatkina. "Defending-wise, I would always defend with the slice. During the pre-season, it was very tough for me to do slices, so I was reaching out and hitting the backhand or hitting lobs with the backhand. I kind of had a gun on me to hit a backhand.
"Maybe this was the medicine the coaches should have given me a long time ago to stop me from doing drop shots. I guess I don't need my drop shot anymore."
Jabeur's comfort with her flat backhand could prove the difference-maker against Badosa. The Spaniard leads their head-to-head 3-1, but the two split their two meetings last season. Jabeur is well-aware of Badosa's love of the clay and is prepared for her attempt to slow the game down. The challenge for Jabeur will be to speed things up, and the quicker conditions in Stuttgart will help her cause.
"It's very slippery and very fast," Badosa told WTA Insider after her tough three-set win over Elena Rybakina. "I'm not even playing a clay-court game. I like to play a lot with my forehand with heavy balls. Here I don't have the time to do that as much as I want. The movement as well, when you lose control of the point it's tough to recover."
"I'll have to be ready for her very flat game. She'll be very aggressive. She won't give me the time to play, to think. I'll have to do the same to her. I think in these kinds of matches, the one who plays better that day wins because the level is very tight right now."
😂😂😂😂 you be careful… maybe I’ll added on your meal tonight. 👀— Paula Badosa (@paulabadosa) April 21, 2022
While Badosa prepares for Jabeur's aggressive tactics, the Tunisian is gearing up for a test of patience.
"I know that Paula practices one way and plays another way," Jabeur said of her frequent practice partner. "She's much tougher in matches. It's going to be a very tough match. I think I'll rally a lot and run a lot. She doesn't give free points. So the key tomorrow is patience for me.
"I'm just trying to enjoy as much as I can. For me, I put more pressure on her. She's the clay specialist. I saw the interview. So more pressure is on you, Paula!"