Ons Jabeur has arrived to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia of Rome strong of a magnificent title run in Madrid. The Tunisian played some amazing tennis in the capital of Spain to lift the most important trophy of her career and lift herself as one of the main contenders for glory in Paris. However, her focus is on the here and now, trying to soak in the energy of a place she loves.
“It is really amazing to be here. I love Italy. I love everything about Italy here. I’m just going to try to do the same thing I did in Madrid,” she explained with a big smile: “I came with the same press conference outfit, so it’s a start. But great to be back here and hopefully I’m just going to focus on recover well for my first match and be ready.”
The win in Madrid felt like a long-time due award and the reaction from fans and fellow players was as warm as it gets and this moved Jabeur: “I had a lot of hugs from yesterday until today. It’s great to see all the players happy for me. Honestly I’m just really overwhelmed. I got a lot of hugs, I got to tell you, a lot of hugs. I love hugs. It’s amazing (smiling). Great energy. People were really happy for me. That’s amazing”.
Having no bye in the first round, however, today’s world number 7 had little time to enjoy and celebrate the victory in Madrid: “after the final I had to be with you guys, enjoy my time with you, to be honest. Then, yeah, Karim (Kammoun) had to pack, it was his obligation to pack for me. We had a little bit celebration with Karim yesterday. We took our time, but we want to move on at the same time because we are here in Rome, not a lot of time to recover. I’m still digesting it, to be honest with you. It’s amazing. I just don’t want to be overwhelmed with the trophy but at the same time try to enjoy”.
The victory last week and a career best ranking are making Jabeur one of the hottest names on the tour right now and she is not shying away from her goals and expectations.
“In my head that the main goal is really the French Open, to be ready for that,” she admitted and therefore is really taking Rome with the upmost focus: “I’d like to know how to manage the back-to-back weeks from Madrid to Rome. I know great players, great champions, great legends, they do it. It’s another challenge for me as well right now, is to know how to handle those three weeks. To be able to be ready physically for it, mentally for it, it’s another challenge for me. I hope I can really dig deep in this one again because if I learn how to manage these two tournaments, I may be able to be even more ready to win a Grand Slam, you know?”
The ultimate goal of any player is a slam and for her, it has always been, even though she had to learn how to convince herself in spite of the negativity she would hear around her.
“I had to learn not to convince other people but to convince myself. The fact that you give so much importance to what people think is a waste of energy, a waste of time. I’ve learned the hard way, that I had to believe more in myself. It’s tough sometimes to block that negative energy that people say you cannot do it. Kind of hearing that from a young age, it was tough to get past it. Starting from juniors when I got injured, when I had surgery with my wrist like this, I said, I want to win the French Open. You can see most of the journalists laughing at you it was tough.”
“They don’t really know how you are living your life from waking up till going to sleep, what are you struggling with, crying under the shower, crying most of the times after losing, disappointing yourself. People don’t know what’s happening. I wish they can take the time and appreciate that, not just for me but for all other athletes in the world.”