Ons Jabeur achieved another milestone Saturday, when the No.8 seed from Tunisia outlasted No.12 seed Jessica Pegula 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 to win the Mutua Madrid Open for her first WTA 1000 title.
Jabeur survived both a set point in the first set and a second-set bagel before gritting her way to a 1-hour and 54-minute victory over the American Pegula.
The No.10-ranked Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to win a Hologic WTA Tour singles title last year at Birmingham, claims her second career title.
Thoughts from the champion: "[Pegula] was really good, putting a lot of pressure, playing kind of the game that I don't like," Jabeur said after her victory. "As soon as I was 30-0 down on my serve [in the last game], I was like, 'Of course you want to make it tougher. Of course you want to suffer here. You don't want to just finish an easy game.'
"When I had the match point, I was like I had to win it from the beginning, otherwise it's going to be very tough for me. But I'm very happy and trying to realize that I won today, really."
Dreams do come true 🏆😍— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) May 7, 2022
I love you all!! 🙏🇹🇳
Thank you Madrid, thank you to everyone who came and supported me. I am so grateful. Thank you to my familly and to the best team: Karim, Issam & Mélanie, you guys are amazing! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/3Bge7Qvr6G
Winning ways: Jabeur and Pegula were deadlocked at 2-2 in their head-to-head coming into Saturday’s final, but Jabeur had won their past two encounters. Their four previous meetings had come on hard court, and in their first clay-court encounter, it was Jabeur who came out on top once more.
The win improved Jabeur’s record in singles finals to 2-4. Last month, she fell in a tight three-setter to Belinda Bencic in the Charleston championship match.
Jabeur's 12 clay-court match-wins is the most among players this season.
"I'm so happy that I didn't wait long [for the title], because I was really disappointed after Charleston and Stuttgart," Jabeur said. "I was really close and I know I was playing really good there. But I have been doing a lot of hard work to see that it's paying off. I cannot describe how I feel right now."
Projected ranking moves: The 27-year-old Jabeur is projected to return to her career-high position of No.7 in Monday’s new rankings.
Pegula, 28, could have made her Top 10 debut with the title, but she is still projected to reach a career-high ranking of No.11 on Monday after making the biggest final of her career.
Match moments: Pegula matched Jabeur drop shot for drop shot early as the American built a 4-1 lead. Jabeur pulled back on serve, but Pegula was still the first to reach set point, on Jabeur's serve at 5-4.
But a backhand winner by Jabeur erased that chance, and the Tunisian turned the set around from there. She fired a backhand return winner to break Pegula at love for 6-5, then served out the set.
Untimely errors by Jabeur while down break points put her in a deep hole in the second set, which Pegula won without the loss of a game. Jabeur, however, earned a crucial love break to lead 2-1 in the third set and regain momentum.
Jabeur jumped to 5-2 in the third. She came back from 0-30 in the following game to reach championship point with a forehand winner before closing out the match.
Jabeur ended the match with her 29 winners, more than doubling Pegula's total of 14. The Tunisian had only one more unforced error than Pegula.