Historic win puts Jabeur's fasting on temporary hold

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-02 08:43

PARIS - Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam on Wednesday, but said her success has caused a dilemma for her observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The 22-year-old Tunisian, ranked No 114 in the world, defeated sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3 at the French Open after earning her place in the main draw as a 'lucky loser' following a loss in qualifying.

But Jabeur said her unexpected run means she will have to postpone her Ramadan fasting obligations until her Paris adventure ends.

"I cannot go on here without eating or drinking, but after the tournament I will give it back, day by day," she said after her first career win over a top-10 player

"I won't be able to do the 30 days, but I have time to do it before the next Ramadan."

Jabeur, who had never won a match at a major before her visit to Roland Garros, has now bettered the previous best by an Arab woman at the Slams.

That mark was set by compatriot Selima Sfar, who made the second round at Wimbledon three times, at the French Open twice and at the US Open once.

Jabeur, who won the French Open girls' championship in 2011, now faces Swiss 2015 semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky for a place in the last 16.

"I am very happy to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time," said Jabeur, who proudly waved a Tunisian flag on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"The fans here and all the Tunisians really helped me."

Jabeur hailed the help she has received from Sfar, a trailblazer for Arab women's tennis.

"She is such a great inspiration, she always comes to help me and support me," said Jabeur, who fired 30 winners to 2009 semifinalist Cibulkova's 13, taking the match when her opponent double-faulted.

Jabeur only squeezed into the main draw when Germany's Laura Siegemund was forced to withdraw because of an injury.

Gloria Pizzichini was the last 'lucky loser' to reach the third round in Paris, in 1996.

In 1988, Nicole Jagerman of the Netherlands became the only 'lucky loser' to make the fourth round in Paris.

Jabeur's win has already secured her the biggest purse of her career, with $125,000 guaranteed for third-round players.

"This is a second chance for me. Now I will do everything I can to continue on this path," said the Paris-based Jabeur.

She also believes her victory is an important step for women's tennis in the Arab world, and she is prepared for the extra scrutiny.

"Tunisia is a very small country but I feel it has got a bit bigger now," she said.

"It's a great honor to represent the Arab world and Africa."

Cibulkova arrived in Paris under an injury cloud after wearing a cast on her wrist earlier in the season.

She played just three clay-court matches before Roland Garros.

Agence France - Presse

 Historic win puts Jabeur's fasting on temporary hold

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur reacts after defeating Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-3 in their second-round match at the French Open on Wednesday. David Vincent / Ap

(China Daily 06/02/2017 page24)

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