Claire Liu topples Ons Jabeur in Tunisia for first career Top 10 win
Friday in Monastir, Tunisia was a day to remember for 22-year-old American Claire Liu: Unseeded at the inaugural Jasmin Open in the country's southern coast, Liu scored her first-ever Top 10 win against top seed and home favorite Ons Jabeur, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, to reach the semifinals.
The win against the No. 1 seed is also Liu's second against a seeded player this week at the WTA 250 event: In Round 2, she knocked off No. 7 seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, the WTA doubles world No. 1.
Liu's previous best win by ranking was against Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, who was ranked No. 25 when Liu beat her at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif. in August. A product of the USTA's Training Center - West in Carson, Calif., Liu improves to 1-2 in her career against Top 10 players. She previously lost to then-No. 10 Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon in 2018 (Kerber went on to win the title), and then-No. 3 Paula Badosa on the green clay in Charleston in May.
In both those matches, she won the first set, but went on to lose the match. She didn't make the same mistake on Friday.
In front of a packed house on Friday evening, the former Wimbledon junior champion broke the 2022 Wimbledon and US Open finalist six times and won nearly half the points in Jabeur's service games on the whole.
She also hit 28 winners to Jabeur's 13 in 2 hours, 26 minutes. After the match, Liu acknowedged the Tunisian trailblazer, who's the first Arab woman to rank in the WTA's Top 10 and reach a Grand Slam final, and her influence in bringing a WTA tournament to her home country.
"I really appeciate everyone for coming out, and I know everyone wanted a different result, but I don't think this tournament would happen without Ons and I think she deserves everything, all the success and all the support," Liu said.
"I think I got lucky on a few shots, and just tried to stick with it. I'm just lucky I got it out in the end."
Earlier this year, Liu reached her first career WTA singles final at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat, Morocco. She'll face Belgium's Elise Mertens, the former world No. 12 who's seeded No. 5 this week, in the semifinals in Tunisia for a place in her second.