Ons Jabeur took a big step towards defending her World No 2 ranking with her 7-6(3), 6-1 victory over Sorana Cirstea at the Adelaide International 1.
Jabeur has Jessica Pegula breathing down her neck with the No 3 trying to chase her down via the United Cup.
Pegula has been phenomenal for the United States but Jabeur holds decent point cushion over the American and a run to the final in Adelaide will put her out of reach.
“Very happy, great start for me,” Jabeur said after her victory. “Obviously, I wanted to win the first set much easier, but I will have to learn from it and keep more energy.”
Jabeur is pleased that she managed to stay calm after missing big opportunities in her first match of the season.
“Happy that I stayed calm, not angry that I missed the two breaks that I was up with and keeping my calm to play my game. That tiebreak helped me play a better second set.”
After a big 2022 season Jabeur will be a player that others will want to beat to enhance their own reputations in 2023.
Jabeur will face Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in her last eight match.
World No 1 Iga Swiatek is assured of the No 1 seeding for the Australian Open.
The Pole can add to her WTA Rankings points total, already impressively the second highest haul for any player bested only by Serena Williams, if she can help Poland win the United Cup.
A year ago, Swiatek was the World No 9, but she dominated 2023 in the wake of Ashleigh Barty’s retirement and now has little margin for improvement.
The Australian Open season does offer Swiatek the opportunity to add to her 11085 WTA Rankings points, given her results Downunder in 2022, but she won’t be able to defend her Adelaide International 1 title.
She could still bank more WTA Rankings points from the United Cup if Poland beat the United States and she downs Pegula, and Greece beat Italy to ensure that her Finals opponent is ranked in the Top ten.
Further down the ladder, Caroline Garcia has a lock on the No 4 seeding for the Australian Open draw which takes place next Thursday 12 January.
Maria Sakkari has the United Cup title in her sights as well and could move up to World No 5 if she can achieve that goal.
Current World No 5 Aryna Sabalenka has defended the points she gained in Adelaide last season and can add more if she wins her quarter-final against Markéta Vondroušová.
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