Monday, July 30, 2012

LONDON 2012: Jaziri and Jabeur add Arab flavor to Wimbledon on day three

Tunisian duo Malek Jaziri and Ons Jabeur both feature in Monday's line-up at Wimbledon as the Olympic tennis tournament enters its third day of action.

Jabeur's opening round against No15 seed Sabine Lisicki was pushed many times on Sunday due to the rain and was eventually postponed to the following day as the 17-year-old Tunisian was serving on game point to lead 5-3 in the first set.

When she first drew Lisicki, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist who has one of the women's game biggest serves, I was initially worried about Jabeur before I remembered how fearless she is. When I asked her how she felt about the draw, this is what she said:

"It's a good draw , first experience in the Olympics , it will be good I hope. I will try my best and give more then a 100%."

Their match is rescheduled to Monday, second match from an 11:30 (UK time) start on Court 12, following Angelique Kerber and Petra Cetkovska's match.

Meanwhile Jaziri will get the Court 1 treatment as he takes on No10 seed John Isner of the United States (third match from noon start) for a place in the third round.

The 28-year-old has risen to the world's top-70 and after making his Wimbledon debut a few weeks ago, where he won his first round match, he returns to the All England Club with another win in the opening round against Yen-Hsun Lu.

Jaziri may not be the most experienced on grass (he has one grass Futures title), and Isner has won the title in Newport twice on the surface - one of them only three weeks ago - but  the 6'9" American has not been very successful at Wimbledon, winning only two out of six matches in four trips to the Championships.

Still Olympic tennis with its best-of-three matches are a different story and Jaziri needs to make sure he makes no mistakes on his own serve because breaking the big-serving Isner is going to be a mighty challenge.

Regardless of results, the fact that two Tunisians are present in the Olympics tennis draw, in both men's and women's singles deserves its own celebration.

11 years may separate Jabeur and Jaziri but their breakthroughs have beautifully coincided as he made his first Grand Slam main draw only a couple of months after she won the Roland Garros Junior title last year.

It's a coincidence that has spurred massive interest in tennis across Tunisia, who have only had the now-retired Selima Sfar to look up to in the past.

Jabeur is thrilled to have a fellow Tunisian making his way up the tennis ladder. She says: "It's a good thing because Malek can push me with him to the top and maybe I can help him too."

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