Tennis-Tunisia's Jabeur to become first Arab player to crack top 10


Oct 14, 2021; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Ons Jabeur (TUN) celebrates after she defeated Anett Kontaveit (EST) in their quarterfinal match during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) -Ons Jabeur will become the first Arab player to crack the top 10 of the world rankings after reaching the Indian Wells semi-finals on Thursday and the Tunisian said she is just getting started.

Jabeur, currently ranked 14th, reached the final of the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic earlier this month and became the first Arab player to win a WTA title at the Birmingham Classic in June.

The 27-year-old defeated Estonia's Anett Kontaveit 7-5 6-3 in Thursday's quarter-final in the California desert, converting five of her 12 break-point chances on the way to her 48th match win of the season, the most of any player on the Tour this season.

"Like this is a dream coming true. This is something that I've been wanting... when I was 16," Jabeur said.

"Top 10 is the beginning. I know I deserve this place for a long time since I was playing well. But I want to prove that I deserve to be here."

Jabeur, who will face Spain's Paula Badosa in her first WTA 1000 semi-final on Friday, said she faced many obstacles in her career because of her background.

"I've been rejected by sponsors because of where I come from, which is so not fair," she said. "I didn't understand why before, I accepted it. I am really proud of the person I became today, just not relying on others.

"Everybody probably had a difficult career. I'm not saying I have the most difficult one.

"I didn't want to depend on a sponsor or someone who doesn't even care about tennis or sport in general. It gave me the courage to continue and achieve my goals, and I'm in top 10 today."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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