NEW YORK - Ons Jabeur's groundbreaking career has been patiently paved by incremental progress. The Tunisian emphasized that after missing out on her first major title on Saturday. Despite a valiant comeback in the second set, Jabeur fell 6-2, 7-6(5) to World No.1 Iga Swiatek in the US Open final.
"I struggled to win my first WTA title," Jabeur told reporters after the loss. "It took me time. So I believe this will take me time. The most important thing is accepting it, learning from the finals that I lost.
"But yeah, definitely I'm not someone that going to give up. I am sure I'm going to be in the final again. I will try my best to win it."
Jabeur will rise to No.2 on Monday, sitting firmly behind Swiatek in both the WTA Rankings and Race to the WTA Finals leaderboard. It's a well-earned position for the 28-year-old, who was playing in her second consecutive major final and has already taken home two titles this season. Only Swiatek (7) has played more finals than Jabeur (6) this season.
"To be honest with you, I have nothing to regret because I did everything possible," she said. "I wish I served a little bit better today. It would have helped me a lot.
"You know Iga, how she plays in finals. It's very tough to beat her. I will keep positive and work on the things that was missing today."
As Jabeur is quick to remind everyone, she's earned her No.2 position without points from three Slams, having skipped the Australian Open, losing in the first round of Roland Garros, and not being awarded points at Wimbledon. With that in mind, Jabeur already has her sights on chasing Swiatek down for the No.1 ranking next season.
"She improved a lot I think her forehand and her serve. She's always been solid in the backhand. That's kind of tough. Physically she's everywhere. She can bring any ball. It's always tough to play someone that puts one more shot in."
"It will always be great to compete against Iga. I was joking when I said I don't like her. I'll forgive her when she gives me a Rolex or something," Jabeur joked.
Having won both their matches last year, Jabeur is now 2-3 against Swiatek. The Pole has stopped her in two big finals this season, first on the clay in Rome and now New York. Both matches involved key moments in the second set that saw Jabeur have chances to potentially take them to a third set. Both times, Swiatek found her best tennis to fend off the Tunisian.
"I think in general [she's] just playing better at the right moment, at the important points," Jabeur said. "She knows exactly what to do. I feel like she improved a lot from last year until the beginning of this year again.
"She's working on a lot of things that get in her way. She's really set the bar very high. It's great for our sport. Just will keep doing my thing and hopefully will catch her."
Jabeur is already targeting what would be her debut at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas. A successful run there could help her begin to close the gap on the World No.1.
"It's like a mini Grand Slam, I call it," Jabeur said. "I always dreamed to play this one. I will maybe show myself there and build more confidence to really get ready for the next season because I feel like I have a lot to show next season.
"Catching up in the ranking, I know she has a lot of defending points. I have none. That's kind of the goal."
The top two players in the world come Monday. pic.twitter.com/AMNIX1udbB— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2022