Ons Jabeur ousted Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets, becoming the first African woman to reach the US Open semi-finals in the open era.
The Tunisian clinched her place in the last four of the Grand Slam with a 6-4 7-6(4) win over Serena Williams’ victor Tomljanovic on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Reflecting on making yet more history, Jabeur said: “Hopefully I [can] inspire more generations from Africa. It really means a lot to me.”
It didn’t all go Jabeurs’ way, however, and frustration began to creep in during the second set after a number of unforced errors.
Jabeur, who is known as the ‘minister of happiness’ in her home country due to her jolly nature, admitted she found it difficult to hide her emotions at times.
“I think I’m gonna be fired from my job here, ‘minister of happiness’, but you know, it is tough to manage sometimes the frustration,” she laughed.
“Tennis is a tough sport and I apologise for my behaviour. I wanted to really just keep calm and, but the raquet kept slipping away from my hands!”
Jabeur was the first to break as she moved 3-1 clear of Tomljanovic. The young Australian broke back, though, to 3-3 against the fifth seed.
The world No. 5 had beaten Veronika Kudermetova in the last 16 to get to the quarters, and she drew on that same strength to break to go 5-3 up, before Tomljanovic held to stay in touch.
Jabeur pushed on to 6-4 after 40 minutes, but things started evenly in the second set and went with serve with the older player 3-2 up as she attempted to change up her variety of attack.
Tomljanovic held on, though, and moved onto a 6-5 lead before she struggled to hold off Jabeur, who forced an ultimately decisive tie-break decider.
Despite this, she came roaring back in the second set as Jabeur began to get jittery, and after grabbing a crucial break in the eighth game, Tomlajanovic was serving for the set. However, a double fault handed Jabeur a lifeline and she was able to make it to a tie-break where the Tunisian’s class eventually shone through.
Tomjlanovic’s final contribution was to strike the ball into the net, setting Jabeur up for her first semi-final in New York.
On another day, the second set could easily have slipped away from Jabeur, but the Tunisian remained composed to see the job through.
“I was telling myself to keep believing and forget a little bit about the breaks that I had at the second set,” she explained.
“I came repeating to myself: ‘I can, I can’ and that’s what I was trying to do. I was lucky, she double faulted. I had the good serve when I needed it so I’m very happy today.”
Jabeur will play the winner of Coco Gauff or Caroline Garcia in the semi-final.