After a dominant first set, the 30-year-old Tunisian missed opportunities to break Linette in the second, something she’d come to lament as the world No. 52 produced a 40-0 comeback break in the final game to stun Jabeur on Sunday.
Known for her ability to bounce back in the face of adversity, Jabeur lamented Linette’s ability to stifle her options in the defeat on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the opening match on the grand slam’s main stadium.
“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in. But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.”
Linette produced a complete performance to beat the Tunisian, one of the favorites for the French Open title after her recent impressive run of form.
Jabeur has won 17 matches on clay this season, the most in women’s tennis by far, as well as becoming the first African player to win a WTA 1,000 event at the Madrid Open earlier this month.
But after racing into a one-set lead on Sunday, Jabeur was never given a chance to settle by Linette, who had to leave the court at one point for treatment on her right thigh.
Even in a tight second set, Jabeur had her opportunities to close out the first-round match, missing four break-point chances as Linette eventually took advantage in a tie break.
And in the final set, as a few drops of rain began to fall, Jabeur served to stay in the game. She had a 40-0 lead in her service game to keep her dreams alive, but faltered and a double-fault handed Linette match point, which she dutifully took.
“I saw how well she was playing all this time so I knew I have to be focused and play every single point and try to make her uncomfortable. I’m just happy I managed to fight for every single point.”
Linette will now face either Italy’s Martina Trevisan or Britain’s Harriet Dart in the second round.