Arab icon Jabeur eyes US Open glory

The No. 5 seed beat American Elizabeth Mandlik 7-5, 6-2 to reach the third round, where she has lost in each of the last three years



Ons Jabeur of Tunisia hits a return against Elizabeth Mandlik of the United States during their second round match. (AP)
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia hits a return against Elizabeth Mandlik of the United States during their second round match. (AP)

By AP/AFP

Published: Wed 31 Aug 2022, 10:47 PM

Last updated: Wed 31 Aug 2022, 10:48 PM

Coming off her trip to the Wimbledon finals, Tunisian star Ons Jabeur is hoping to finally make a run at the US Open.

The No. 5 seed beat American Elizabeth Mandlik 7-5, 6-2 to reach the third round, where she has lost in each of the last three years.

It was Jabeur's 40th win of the season. Only top-ranked Iga Swiatek has more.

Jabeur, who made history at Wimbledon by becoming the first Arab player to reach a Grand Slam final, also played with Serena Williams in a doubles tournament before the grass court Major.

Meanwhile, China's Wang Xiyu stunned third seed Maria Sakkari at the US Open on Wednesday to reach the third round of a Grand Salm for the first time.

Wang, ranked 75, came from a set down to knock out her Greek opponent, who made the semifinals last year, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in their two-hour 43-minute clash.

The left-hander hit 35 winners and saved 12 of 17 break points and goes on to face either Alison Riske-Amritraj of the United States or Camila Osorio of Colombia for a place in the last 16.

Wang was one of four Chinese women to reach the second round in New York along with Zheng Qinwen, Zhang Shuai and Yuan Yue.

Venus, Osaka, Raducanu knocked out

The welcome and support for Venus Williams in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday afternoon were not the same as they were for her sister, Serena, a night earlier. Nor was the result.

Venus, who turned 42 in June, has not made any pronouncements about her future in tennis, unlike her younger sibling, and while she has been successful and influential, too — a seven-time Grand Slam champion; a Black woman in a predominantly white sport — the fanfare and attention are not the same.

Playing in front of thousands of empty blue seats in an arena quite silent at the start, although growing louder later, Venus bowed out in the first round of the US Open for the second consecutive appearance, losing 6-1, 7-6 (5) to Alison Van Uytvanck.

At night, Emma Raducanu became only the third defending US Open champion to lose in the first round, eliminated by Alizé Cornet 6-3, 6-3. And yet another past champ bowed out in straight sets when Naomi Osaka, who won two of her four Grand Slam titles in New York, was eliminated by Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins 7-6 (5), 6-3 in a match that ended after midnight.

Osaka, a former No. 1, also lost in the first round of the French Open this year and has slid to 44th in the rankings. She had been 3-0 head-to-head against Collins, but this fun-to-watch, hard-hitting matchup went the other way.

“When you lose to somebody three times,” said the 19th-seeded Collins, who has struggled with injuries this season, “you have nothing to lose, so I tried to go for it and hope for the best.”

Raducanu, who was 18 and ranked 150th when she won the title as a qualifier a year ago, was bothered by hand blisters — she took a medical timeout for treatment after the first set — and was outplayed by Cornet, a 32-year-old from France who also upset No. 1 Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon.

“Obviously really disappointing. Really sad to leave here. It’s probably my favorite tournament. But also, I mean, in a way, (I'm) happy, because it’s a clean slate,” Raducanu said. “I’m going to drop down the rankings. (Will) climb my way back up.”

Also playing under the lights was 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal, who returned to the US Open for the first time since 2019 and beat 21-year-old Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. Nadal did not show any serious lingering issues with the torn abdominal muscle that forced him out of Wimbledon in July.

Venus was off the tour in singles entirely from August 2021 until less than a month ago and is now 0-4 since her return. Her ranking — which 20 years ago was No. 1 — is 1,504th this week.

“It was definitely the longest time I have been away from tennis and been without a racket in my hand. So it was a completely new experience for me, getting a racket back in my hand and trying to acclimate as quick as possible to be ready for the US Open, which was not easy,” she said. “Definitely playing lots of great points, but in the end, it’s just rust. There is nothing you can do about that except for, you know, not be rusty at some point.”


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