BERLIN -- Whenever Ons Jabeur finds herself spiraling into negativity, all she has to do is take an informal poll in the locker room.

Would you take three Grand Slam final finishes?

"Everybody would say yes," Jabeur said after her second-round win at the ecotrans Ladies Open. "And I did ask some players, just to remember how to be grateful. That's very important in life, in general, to be grateful for what you did. 

"Some players didn't even [do what I've done]."

Berlin: Draws | Schedule | Scores

As the 29-year-old Tunisian returns to the grass, it's hard not to shake the bittersweet memories on the turf. It is the surface on which she won her first Hologic WTA Tour title, at 2021 Birmingham, and her history-making runs to back-to-back Wimbledon finals, in 2022 and 2023.  

It is, of course, also where she went into those finals as the favorite to become the first Arab and North African Grand Slam champion, only to walk away empty-handed.

"I come from a very small country, a continent that dreams of seeing someone win a Grand Slam," Jabeur said. "I feel it's great what I achieved. Obviously it becomes more and more personal for me because it's always tough to arrive to the final and not win it. But I'm going to keep chasing my dream and what I've learned is that I shouldn't be afraid of failing because that's where I'm really courageous. 

"If I arrive again to the final and I fail again and I stand up again and go back again to another final, I see that as being a strong woman more than anything else."

Former champion Jabeur battles past Noskova in three sets in Berlin


This year, Jabeur has hit the grass under the radar. In a season in which her body has been her toughest opponent, Jabeur has slipped to No.10 on the PIF WTA Rankings, her lowest ranking in over two years.

But her form and results are trending in the right direction. She has made the quarterfinals of four of her last five tournaments, including at Roland Garros and Madrid. 

"I always say the more matches I play on clay, the more physically better [I am] and easier the grass season is for me," said Jabeur, "because the toughest surface to play on in tennis is clay because you have to be physically ready. 

"But definitely, [Roland Garros] gave me a lot of confidence and made me understand a lot of things. I was blaming myself a lot at the beginning of the season, knowing that I was really injured. I didn't know how much the injury affected my physical but also my mind. Obviously, if you cannot step on your foot you're not going to rip forehands."

Jabeur admits she is still not 100 percent. She continues to manage the knee injury that has plagued her season. Some days are worse than others, but Jabeur said she will need to have it checked again after Wimbledon. 

But back on soft and forgiving grass, Jabeur has been back to her swashbuckling ways. Her courtcraft has been sublime and her movement solid and sure. Last week at the Rothesay Open, she rolled through her first two matches before taking a narrow 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 loss to Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

In Berlin, she fought off big-hitting Linda Noskova in three sets to earn a rematch against World No.2 Coco Gauff on Friday. The American beat Jabeur at Roland Garros 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. But Jabeur got her the year before, right here in the Berlin semifinals. Gauff leads the overall head-to-head 5-2. 

"I think she likes slower surfaces," Jabeur said. "She likes to have her time. But a champion is always a champion. I'm sure she'll play unbelievable on grass. 

"What I like more on grass is I can use my magic a little bit, the touch, the slices. I feel I can bother a little bit Coco with that."  

Jabeur's grass-court magic on display in opening win in Berlin

A win over World No.2 Gauff would be Jabeur's best win by ranking since besting Aryna Sabalenka in the Wimbledon semifinals a year ago. It would also put her into her first semifinal of the season. 

Either way, Jabeur says she's not going to read too much into anything as she prepares for another run at Wimbledon.

"Learning from experience, you can play very bad and then make the final at Wimbledon like what happened last year," Jabeur said. "And I can play really good and win the tournament and still make the final as well (as in 2022). 

"I think the most important thing is to keep really positive every match and to take any positive thing I did this week or last week. It's important for me that I enjoy playing on grass."