Ons Jabeur becomes first Arab tennis player to break into the top 10

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia already was a trail blazer in her own right when she became the first Arab woman to win a WTA Tour title and advance to the quarterfinals in a grand slam event.

Now, she’ll be the first Arab player — male or female — to reach the top 10.

On Thursday, Jabeur defeated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 7-5, 6-3, to reach the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The win guarantees her a spot in the top 10 in singles when the rankings are updated Monday.

It was Jabeur’s 48th match win in 2021, the most by any WTA player this season.

“When I spoke at the end of last season, I said I wanted to be in the top 10,” Jabeur, seeded 12th at Indian Wells, said on court after Thursday’s win against the 18th-seeded Estonian.

“People doubted us as a team, but we proved them wrong. … We have been working so, so hard. Being in the top 10, it means a lot, but we’re not going to stop here. We’re going to go further, hopefully, and now focus on this tournament.”

This will be Jabeur’s first semifinal at a WTA 1000-level event, and she will face No. 21 seed Paula Badosa of Spain. The other semifinal will be No. 27 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus against No. 24 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Jabeur’s first career title came this year at the Viking Classic Birmingham. In 2020 at the Australian Open, she became the first Arab woman to reach a grand slam quarterfinal. She also reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year.