New York: Last year’s finalist Ons Jabeur of Tunisia pulled off another close call at this year’s US Open, staging a third-set comeback to hold off rising Czech teenager Linda Noskova 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3 in a gripping second-round encounter.
The Tunisian had survived two tight sets against Camila Osorio in the first round and overcame physical distress in her opening-round win Tuesday, and she was pushed even further by 18-year-old Noskova on Thursday night.
Jabeur was down a break at 2-3 in the third set, but she won the next four games in succession, prevailing after 2 hours and 8 minutes of play on the Grandstand court.
With the victory, Jabeur has won 13 Grand Slam matches so far in 2023, which is the most Grand Slam matches she has won in a single year. The total surpasses her 12 Grand Slam match-wins from last year, when she reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals but lost in the first round at Roland Garros and missed the Australian Open.
The 29-year-old reached the third round of the US Open for the fifth straight year. Notably, she has reached the final in three of the past five majors, beginning last year at Wimbledon.
While Jabeur is still not fully recovered from the illness that plagued her in the opening round, her latest victory has bought her more time to heal. She will have a day off before facing another Czech opponent Marie Bouzkova, who breezed past Petra Martic 6-1, 6-2, on Saturday.
In other action, No.26 seed Elina Svitolina came from a set down to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to enter the third round.
Since returning to the tour in April after having her daughter, Skäi, Svitolina has played her best tennis at the majors. After an inspired run to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, Svitolina stunned No.1 Iga Swiatek en route to the semifinals at Wimbledon.
She has made the quarterfinals or better in her last two appearances at the US Open, including a semifinal in 2019.
Svitolina will next face world no. 3 Jessica Pegula, who eased into the third round of the US Open with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Patricia Maria Tig.
Pegula’s win was her 60th on hard court since the start of 2022, a number beaten only by World No.1 Iga Swiatek’s 75.