Barty and Jabeur’s Wimbledon hopes riding on wave of emotion

LONDON – Ashleigh Barty and Ons Jabeur will be spurred on not only by a desire to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals but by a greater motivation to go on and win the title.

World No. 1 Barty already has a 2019 French Open title to her credit but to win the Wimbledon crown this year would carry extra significance.

It is the 50th anniversary of the first of two Wimbledon titles for her fellow indigenous Australian, Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Barty – who is wearing a specially-designed dress in tribute to the ‘iconic’ scallop one Cawley wore for her 1971 title success – will play compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic in Tuesday’s (July 6) quarter-finals.

“I’m excited. It’s another stepping-stone for me. It’s another first, I suppose,” said Barty of reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time.

“It’s kind of going to be a new situation, a new scenario, one that I’m going to look forward to.

“I’m going to enjoy it no matter what. I think it’s a stepping stone to what is kind of one of my biggest dreams. We just keep chipping away.”

Tomljanovic is in her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 28 and although she regretted the manner in which she got there – British teenager Emma Raducanu retiring from their match – she is looking forward to Tuesday.

“Two Aussies playing each other in the quarters is great,” she said.

“I am thrilled to play Ashleigh and hope it will be a great match.”

Jabeur, if anything, is embarked on achieving an even greater goal that her success will galvanise a swathe of young Arab women, especially in North Africa, to take up the sport.

The engaging 26-year-old Tunisian – whose greatest inspiration was not a woman player but gifted Moroccan Hicham Arazi – plays the big-serving second seed from Belarus, Aryna Sabalenka.

Sabalenka is appearing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final whilst for Jabeur it is her second following on from the Australian Open last year.

“This time it is different,” said Jabeur.

“This time round I have been going into the second week in almost every Grand Slam right now, being more consistent.

“So I think everybody was kind of expecting me to be in the second week.

“Like I said, my goal is to break this quarterfinal and be able to go to semi, and why not the final?”

Jabeur beat Sabalenka in the third round of last year’s French Open.

“Well, that match I was really nervous,” said Sabalenka.

“I really wanted to win that match. I wasn’t staying aggressive. I was just, like, trying to put the ball back.

“Against her, this is something what you shouldn’t do. If she has the time, then she dictates the game.”

A danger to both Barty and Jabeur’s title hopes though is veteran German Angelique Kerber.

The 2018 Wimbledon champion clearly has rediscovered her love of the game judging by her clinical defeat of American teenager Coco Gauff.

The 33-year-old former world No. 1 will play Karolina Muchova, who beat Barty to reach this year’s Australian Open semi-finals.

“I really enjoy playing on grass,” said Kerber, the only former Wimbledon champion left in the women’s draw.

“I think this is always really special for me. Like winning my tournament in Germany, playing in front of the crowd again this gives me new energy to go out there and enjoy my tennis.

“I really worked hard in the last few months.”

The other quarter-final pitches another former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova against unseeded Viktorija Golubic.

Pliskova says she feels vindicated to have stuck to her guns and style of playing despite being told to change.

“If a hundred people tell you something different, and just to still think and stick with my opinion sometimes is hard, especially in these times,” she said.

“But I think I did pretty well.”

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