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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday April 17, 2024

A painful, confidence-sapping start to 2024 may finally be in the rearview for three-time Grand Slam finalist Ons Jabeur. The 29-year-old, who has suffered from a knee injury and lost five consecutive matches on tour, finally broke through and earned a hard-fought win over 16th-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova on Wednesday in Stuttgart, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(1).

Tennis Express

After the victory Jabeur opened up to reporters about a very difficult period for her tennis.

“It's been a tough couple of months. I didn't expect that an injury could affect my mental so bad,” she said, referring to the on-again, off-again knee problems that have bothered her for many years.

“The knee was affecting so bad, and I didn't realize. I kept going and tried to play matches even though I knew I wasn't ready, and that didn't help with the level of losing basically against anyone on tour.”

Jabeur, who said the injury is nothing new – the knee has bothered her since 2017 – says she feels much better being back on the clay.

“I've got to say, definitely playing on clay really helps my knee a lot,” the World No.9 said. “I'm getting the movement much better. No more, like, trying to get more weight on, stronger on my leg, and try to move up like I was moving before.

“I think it's just a matter of matches and definitely more training and being patient, because I feel like that's the key for me right now.”

A Sense of Duty

Jabeur, who improved to 12-3 on clay since the start of 2023, will face Italy’s Jasmine Paolini in the round of 16 on Thursday in Stuttgart.

She says she’s eager to keep fighting to improve her form, and hopes to show the younger generation the importance of remaining steadfast during times of adversity.

“I feel like it's my duty, and to be honest, for the next generation when they watch you, not to think that everything is perfect on the court,” she said, adding: “No, there are some tough moments, some up-and-downs, but the most important thing is that you give it all on the court.

“I did that in Charleston, but I lost and I'm doing it right now, and I keep going and I keep practicing. Even some days I'm not motivated at all. I have thought about withdrawing from this tournament so many times because I couldn't take another loss. You know, it was very, very difficult.”