By Karolos Grohmann
PARIS (Reuters) -Seventh seed Ons Jabeur’s hopes of becoming the first African woman to win a Grand Slam singles title lay in ruins on Wednesday after her 3-6 7-6(5) 6-1 defeat by Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the French Open quarter-finals.
Jabeur was bidding to reach her third Grand Slam semi-final in less than a year but her plans were scuppered by the 14th-seeded left-hander who battled back bravely to book her own maiden last-four appearance in a major.
The world number 14 became the first Brazilian woman since Maria Bueno in 1968 to reach a Slam semi-final and the first female player from her country to book a last-four spot at Roland Garros in the Open Era.
“In the middle of the second set my coach showed me the clock,” Haddad Maia said. “I had to be patient and keep doing the shots because she (Jabeur) is a pretty good player, one of the best in the world.”
“So I am proud of me and my team today because it is not easy playing her. You think you have another shot to play (in a rally) but then drop shot, winner. I always believed that the match is long.”
The last Brazilian to win a singles crown at the French Open was Gustavo Kuerten, who claimed his third Roland Garros men’s titles in 2001.
The Tunisian, a finalist at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, bagged a couple of quick breaks to move into the driving seat as Haddad Maia struggled to deal with her opponent’s flat groundstrokes.
The Brazilian, the first woman from her country to reach the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam for 55 years, decided to try to run Jabeur around.
The Tunisian deployed her much-feared weapon, however, plopping drop shots over the net to open up a 4-1 lead.
Jabeur served out the first set when the left-hander sent a forehand wide on the first set point.
Both players held serve without conceding a single break point until 5-5 when Jabeur went 40-15 up on Haddad Maia’s serve but failed to convert either.
Her opponent also wasted a chance in the next game but levelled after winning the tiebreak.
She raced into a 5-1 lead in the decider as Jabeur struggled for accuracy and the 27-year-old Haddad Maia sealed a memorable win when her opponent sent an easy forehand long on the first match point.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann,Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed Osmond)
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