The semi-final against Ons Jabeur was the last stop for Tatjana Maria. The 34-year-old missed being the sixth German to reach the Wimbledon final.
Tatjana Maria’s Wimbledon dream trip is over: Exactly 37 years to the day after Boris Becker’s first triumph in the All England Club, the 34-year-old lost in the semifinals against her good friend Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) 2: 6, 6: 3, 1: 6. Jabeur is the first African woman to reach the final of a Grand Slam tournament, Maria said goodbye to the audience with a smile and kissed many hands from the holiest lawn in the tennis world.
So far, only five German players have made it to the Wimbledon final: seven-time winner Steffi Graf, as well as Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki, Cilly Aussem and Hilde Krahwinkel. Maria’s hope of joining this illustrious line lasted only one sentence.
With a faint smile, Maria entered Center Court, where she was allowed to play for the third time in her career. Their first service game lasted seven minutes – including the defense of three breakballs, countless stops and many net attacks. The German kept her serve because Jabeur revealed weaknesses, especially on the forehand, and first had to adjust to her opponent’s game.
Then Jabeur got into the match better, Maria was able to counter the break to 3:1 to make it 3:2, but then Jabeur pulled away to 5:2 with her fast, powerful game. Maria now tried to act much more aggressively, but she made too many mistakes. Jabeur, with meanwhile 84 victories on the WTA tour this year the most successful player, became more and more powerful, more and more sovereign. Maria was barely able to free herself from the defensive, after 38 minutes Jabeur converted her first set ball to 6:2.
Jabeur was the more aggressive, braver player throughout the first half. “Tatjana must not always get involved in this small-small, she has to really pull through,” said former Wimbledon winner Michael Stich as co-commentator of “Sky”: “There are still no tactics in Tatjana’s game to be seen. She does far too many unforced errors.”
Maria fights back in the second set
However, as soon as Maria played the slice longer and changed the tempo, Jabeur got into trouble. Maria couldn’t win the match against the dynamic Jabeur from behind, she had to find another way.
She did. In the second round, her game became much more secure, she had more length in her shots and also acted with more pressure from the baseline and at the net. The break to 3:1 was the reward for Maria, who still gave away a lot of points because she didn’t go the direct way, but wanted to play a “magic ball” every now and then.
The match improved in quality, both players had shed their initial nervousness. “They’re both trying to win the point now, not not to lose it,” said Stich. Maria increased to 4:1, stayed close to 5:2 and after an hour and 17 minutes managed to equalize the set with 6:3.
Maria seemed tired and resigned
In the third round nothing worked for Maria. After two breaks from Jabeur, the Tunisian quickly made it 4-0. Jabeur didn’t allow anything anymore, Maria seemed tired and resigned, after a total of 1:42 hours of play the very one-sided match was over in the end.
There was at least one piece of good news for Maria that day: her brother’s wife had given birth to their second child that morning. “This morning I became an aunt again,” she said before the match: “The family has gotten a little bigger again.” Aunt Ons will certainly be happy about it too.