Mar 28, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Ons Jabeur (TUN) hits a forehand against Danielle Collins (USA)(not pictured) in a fourth round women’s singles match in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
- Of the many surprises at the Madrid Open, qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova in the final four is near the top
- Alexandrova owns a 6-1 head-to-head against Thursday’s semifinals opponent, No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur
- Jabeur is a far superior player on clay; we break down the matchup and make a prediction
After the second round of an upset-filled 2022 Madrid Open, No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur already was the highest seed remaining.
No. 14 down the list of pre-tournament favorites, she has long outlasted everyone ahead of her.
And she gets a qualifier, Ekaterina Alexandrova, in the semifinals.
Alexandrova vs Jabeur Odds
|[Q] Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS)||+3.5 (-117)||+160||O 20.5 (-124)|
| Ons Jabeur (TUN)||-3.5 (-109)||-200||U 20.5 (-103)|
Odds as of May 4 at Barstool Sportsbook
Clay is Jabeur’s Game
It was hard to fathom, even from the get-go, that Jabeur would be a +3500 long shot to win.
She has been knocking at the door on clay for awhile. And she grew up on the surface; her variety of tools is tailor-made for it.
She also made the final in Charleston in her clay opener this season, and the quarterfinals in Stuttgart. abeur has a 70% win rate on clay in her career, by far her best on any surface. And she’s closer to 80% in the last 52 weeks, at 15-4.
So this might be her tournament to win. And it would be by far the biggest victory of her pro career.
In contrast, Alexandrova’s worst surface, statistically, is clay.
Alexandrova and Jabeur Beating In-Form Players
Both players have met just one seeded player in their first four matches: Alexandrova upset No. 10 Jelena Ostapenko in the first round, and Jabeur defeated No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic in the third round.
But in the quarterfinals, both took care of opponents who had been the in-form players of the week in Madrid.
Amanda Anisimova had upset both No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 15 Victoria Azarenka en route to the final eight. But Alexandrova beat the American in straight sets.
Former Madrid champion Simona Halep sparked a lot of talk of a major renaissance, as she beat No. 2 Paula Badosa and No. 14 Coco Gauff en route to the quarterfinals. Jabeur took care of her in straight sets, too.
Alexandrova vs Jabeur Head-to-Head
|27 (Nov. 15, 1994)||Age||27 (Aug. 28, 1994)|
|Chelyabinsk, Russia||Birthplace||Ksar El Hellar, Tunisia|
|1||Career WTA Singles Titles||1|
|No. 25 (Feb. 17, 2020)||Career High Ranking||No. 7 (Nov. 1, 2021)|
|No. 45||Current Ranking||No. 10|
|$3,400,274||Career Prize Money||$4,521,545|
|13-8||2022 Won/Loss record||18-7|
|6||Career Head to Head||1|
The Russian Owns the Tunisian
Both Alexandrova and Jabeur came up the ranks rather gradually, with Alexandrova peaking a little earlier, but at a lower career high of No. 25.
The two never played in the juniors, despite being only a few months apart. While Jabeur played the junior circuit, Alexandrova hit the lower pro levels after only a handful of lower-tier junior events.
Ekaterina Alexandrova is the 3rd qualifier to reach the Madrid semifinals, joining Lucie Hradecka (2012) and Louisa Chirico (2016).
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 4, 2022
But in the pros, they have played each other an unexpectedly high number of times, nearly all on the ITF circuit.
And, also unexpectedly, Alexandrova has a 6-1 lead in their head-to-head.
Alexandrova vs Jabeur Match History
|2021||Moscow (R32)||Indoor Hard||6-1, 1-0 retd||Alexandrova|
|2018||Budapest ITF (QF)||Outdoor Clay||6-4, 6-3||Alexandrova|
|2017||Trnava 2 ITF (R16)||Outdoor Clay||6-2, 4-6, 7-5||Alexandrova|
|2017||Shenzhen ITF (QF)||Indoor Hard||6-2, 6-7, 7-6||Alexandrova|
|2017||Zhuhai ITF (R16)||Indoor Hard||6-1, 2-6, 6-3||Jabeur|
|2016||Prague ITF (R32)||Outdoor Clay||6-2, 6-1||Alexandrova|
|2016||Wimbledon (QR1)||Grass||6-3, 6-3||Alexandrova|
Time for Jabeur to Take Next Step
The last time they met – their only time at the WTA level –Jabeur was dealing with an injury that eventually kept her out of her first WTA Tour Finals.
So it wasn’t representative. But in the meantime Jabeur has riden to the top, and Alexandrova is struggling to get back to where she was.
Jabeur was in tears after losing the Charleston final to Bencic — not her first recent disappointment in a final.
She exacted her revenge against Bencic earlier this week. And she has wins over potential finals opponent Jessica Pegula – and not even on her surface of choice.
It’s a huge opportunity she cannot let get away. And it will say a lot about her seriousness as a major contender if she can grab it, or if she can’t.
Best Bet: Jabeur in Two Sets (+125)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.