Jabeur books WTA Charleston final with Sharma

Top seed Ons Jabeur has lost just 13 games to reach the final of the MUSC Health Women’s Open, including her 6-3 6-0 drubbing of Danka Kovinic on Saturday, to book a title showdown in the WTA 250 tournament in Charleston against Australia’s Astra Sharma.

In the tiebreak, I thought I did a good job, holding my nerve, weathering the storm of her good shots. I thought she's such a clean ball-striker, such a tough opponent that I was mentally prepared for her to hit those. I tried my best to beat her with my physicality, [to] wear her down. Astra Sharma

Jabeur avenged a straight-sets loss to Kovinic in the semi-finals of last week’s Volvo Car Open on the same green clay courts of Daniel Island, shaking off some apparent queasiness late in the first set and needing 10 set points to pocket, finally converting with a backhand winner.

“She didn’t give me any free points,” the Tunisian said of the Montenegrin. “It was a tough game for both. I’m glad I responded well for the next game.”

Kovinic, who fell to Veronika Kudermetova in last Sunday’s final, was down 2 breaks when she dug in again, late in the second set, saving 4 match points before Jabeur flicked a winner past her.

Jabeur, who is at a career-high ranking of 27th in the world, earned a meeting with 165th-ranked Sharma, who cooled off red-hot Colombian teenager Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, 7-6(5) 6-1.

Sharma, 25, ended the 19-year-olds 8-match winning streak, which had included the first title of her career last week in Bogotá.

Trailing 5-6 in the first set, Sharma saved 4 set points to force a tiebreak, which she edged after converting her only set point.

“In the tiebreak, I thought I did a good job, holding my nerve, weathering the storm of her good shots,” Sharma said. “I thought she’s such a clean ball-striker, such a tough opponent that I was mentally prepared for her to hit those.

“I tried my best to beat her with my physicality, [to] wear her down.”

The Aussie recovered from losing her opening service game in the second set to produce 3 straight breaks as she moved 5-1 ahead before holding to love and grabbing her first match-point chance to win, 7-6(5) 6-1.


Ons Jabeur has not dropped a set in reaching the final and avenged last week's loss to Danka Kovinic in the semi-finals

©  Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Sharma is into her second career WTA singles final and, like Jabeur, is aiming to win her first title at this level here.

“She’s obviously playing really well,” Sharma said of Jabeur. “I’m really excited. I’ve never played her. I can’t wait to get out there.

“I’m playing really well and it will be fun to match up and see how I go.”

Jabeur and Sharma are meeting for the first time and, for the second straight week in Charleston, someone is going to win a maiden title.

In the doubles final, the American team of Hailey Baptiste & Catherine McNally will face Australia’s Ellen Perez & Storm Sanders on Sunday.

The MUSC Women’s Health Open was a late addition to the WTA Tour calendar after the Billie Jean King Cup Finals set for this week was cancelled and Volvo Car Open tournament director Bob Moran and owner Ben Navarro agreed to stage a second event, a WTA 250 event with a 32-player draw, in Charleston to fill the gap.





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