Great expectations as Jabeur becomes first Arab woman in Roland Garros last 16

Paris (AFP) –


Tunisia's Ons Jabeur on Saturday became the first Arab woman to make the last 16 at Roland Garros with a 7-6 (9/7), 2-6, 6-3 win over Belarusian eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka in another breakthrough performance which she admits has raised expectations.

Jabeur, seeded 30, who made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January, faces either 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza from Spain or Danielle Collins of the United States for a place in the last-eight.

"The people in Tunisia are really encouraging me a lot. Media, I'm not sure," said Jabeur as her standout season at the Slams continued after also becoming the first Arab female player to reach the third round at the US Open last month.

"The most important thing for me is having Tunisian people supporting me all the time. That's really important for me. Also I know they are expecting me to go as far as I can in this tournament."

The 26-year-old, a former junior champion in the French capital, insisted she will not allow expectations to get too out of hand, lightening the mood by appearing at her news conference wearing a protective mask bearing an image of Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas.

"I asked for it. He was like, No way you're going to wear it. Of course, I'm going to wear it. I'm Team Tsitsipas," she said.