On Thursday night, Ajla Tomljanović made another impressive comeback against 11th seed Jelena Ostapenko in the second round of the Australian Open. Despite her efforts, she was unable to fully recover.
Only two Australians remain in the singles competition at Melbourne Park after the Latvian’s victory of 6-0, 3-6, 6-4.
Tomljanović stated that the match lasted for 102 minutes but it felt like it went by quickly.
The Australian expressed that the experience felt fleeting, stating, “It was like I blinked and it was done.” They acknowledged that the other person came out aggressively, which they anticipated, but were not prepared for.
Last year, Ostapenko made it to the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park. Her recent performance, which has returned her to the top 10, mirrors her success as the 2017 French Open champion.
She emerged victorious in both the doubles and singles categories at the Brisbane and Adelaide tournaments. Additionally, she had already defeated Kim Birrell, a local player, earlier in the tournament.
After the game, the strong batter stated that she has been attempting to embrace a more assertive approach.
“I may sound odd, but I believe that in crucial moments, I need to apply more pressure on my opponent in order to improve my performance.”
On Thursday, her revised strategy displayed potential. In just 19 minutes of the first set, Ostapenko made 10 shots that resulted in points, compared to her Australian opponent’s one. She also benefitted from her opponent’s four double faults.
But Tomljanović – still recovering after knee surgery last year – had already pulled off one comeback this week, dragging herself to victory against Petra Martić in the first round despite trailing 1-4 in the final set.
In the second set, she appeared to be a better player and was able to break her opponent’s serve in the fifth game.
Ostapenko, the Latvian player, spent a significant portion of the set engaged in heated exchanges with her team. At various points, she made frantic gestures, seemingly urging one of her team members to exit the court. Tomljanović appeared to capitalize on Ostapenko’s distractions and ultimately won the set thanks to another break.
Tomljanović stated that whenever she felt a small sense of success, she would take a risk and it ultimately resulted in success.
As the clock struck midnight, the match had an unexpected turn. In the third set, there were three consecutive breaks, and in the following game, the Latvian player committed two double faults but still managed to maintain their advantage.
At a score of 3-4, the Australian player almost managed to tie the match again. A remarkable forehand return resulted in two opportunities to break the opponent’s serve. However, a powerful serve from Ostapenko in the middle saved one of the break points, and Tomljanović was able to defend the second by moving around the court.
In the end, that was where the comeback came to a halt. Even though she won the game to make it 3-5, the Australian player was ultimately knocked out of her home grand slam shortly after.
“I have the inclination to be angry, but I’m actually calm because it doesn’t seem like I did something drastically wrong,” she stated.
“When reflecting on the past 12 months, I can’t help but feel grateful to be where I am today.”
This was the fourth time the pair had met. Ostapenko had emerged victorious in two of those meetings, but the one that sticks out in most people’s minds is the Australian player’s three-set win at Wimbledon in 2021.
On that occasion, Ostapenko requested a controversial medical break, which led to a conflict at the net, where she referred to the Australian as “the weakest player on tour.”
At the start of Friday morning, the hostility appeared to have completely disappeared. The two individuals exchanged what seemed to be a pleasant interaction at the end of the game, and Ostapenko expressed her joy in seeing her opponent back on the court afterwards.
“It seems like the past is behind us now,” Tomljanović remarked. “I believe there is a mutual understanding between the two of us, and she was very gracious with her words as we shook hands.”
Out of the 21 Australian singles entrants in this year’s competition, only two are left: Alex de Minaur and Storm Hunter, who is currently ranked No. 1 in women’s doubles.
Tomljanović expressed her belief that Hunter had a good chance of winning against the ninth seed, Barbora Krejčíková, on Friday.
Hunter demonstrated that she possesses a superior level of skill in singles matches. It should also be noted that Storm should not be underestimated.
On Friday evening, Hunter will face off against Krejčíková on Rod Laver Arena. Meanwhile, De Minaur will take on Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli on John Cain Arena during the same time slot.