Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Storm erupts over ‘garbage’ act amid ugly Aussie development at French Open

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Ajla Tomljanovic and Jordan Thompson both suffered defeats on a nightmarish start to the French Open for the Australian tennis contingent on Sunday. Tomljanovic was playing just her second full match in the last four months, and took an early one-set lead against 30th seed Dayana Yastremska at Roland Garros.

But the Aussie star, who has been plagued by injuries over the last 18 months, eventually succumbed 3-6 6-3 6-3 to her more-fancied opponent. She was soon followed by Aleksandar Vukic, who was injured in a 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-5 loss to China‘s Zhizhen Zhang, and Jordan Thompson – whose first grand slam appearance since winning his first ATP title ended in a 3-6 2-6 0-6 thrashing at the hands of Maximilian Marterer of Germany.

Alja Tomljanovic, Jordan Thompson and Terence Atmane at the French Open.

Alja Tomljanovic (L) and Jordan Thompson (R) both lost at the French Open, while Terence Atmane (centre) wasn’t disqualified despite hitting a spectator. Image: Getty/Eurosport

And Chris O’Connell, who has produced a solid clay-court season, was reported to have withdrawn from his first-round match against Austrian qualifier Filip Misolic through injury. Tomljanovic’s loss means Australia won’t have a woman in the second round of the French Open for the first time since 1997 unless Daria Saville can stun 12th seed Jasmine Paolini on Monday.

Despite the loss, Tomljanovic found plenty of positives in her brave performance against Yastremska – the Ukrainian qualifying sensation who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January. But the 31-year-old also conceded she needs to make massive strides in order to get back to where she was when she beat Serena Williams and made the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2022.

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“I should not leave this place having any negative thoughts, because it is only up from here, and my body so far has pulled up well, so that is a great thing,” said Tomljanovic, who had pulled out of her comeback tournament in Parma last week with a neck injury. “But it feels like I have a mountain to climb right now. I’m still here. I’m eager. I still have that fire inside me to still keep going , but it definitely has been very challenging.

“It’s just I feel like I have to almost re-program my mind and not think about the past, because I’m not the player I was. I have to build everything up from the ground again. And that’s not easy to accept mentally because you come back straight away and you’re like, ‘I want to get back from where I was’. But that’s gone. A lot of time has passed and I’m here now. It’s a process for sure.”

Ajla Tomljanovic at the French Open.Ajla Tomljanovic at the French Open.

Ajla Tomljanovic in action against Dayana Yastremska at the French Open.

Tomljanovic was left to rue four break-point opportunities that went begging in the second set. “Obviously, very disappointed. I felt like I had so many chances in that second set,” she admitted. “It’s hard to say you’re happy with the way it went, because I lost, but considering everything, I think I played as good as I could have played today.”

Naomi Osaka and Carlos Alcaraz were the biggest names to advance on Sunday, while Andy Murray played his final French Open match as he went down to Stan Wawrinka. And controversy erupted on the outside courts when Frenchman Terence Atmane wasn’t disqualified despite blasting a ball in anger and striking a spectator.

Atmane lashed out wildly after losing a point and hit the ball directly at a fan. Sebastian Ofner called for his opponent to be disqualified, but officials showed leniency to the local player and he was allowed to continue. Ofner eventually won 3-6 4-6 7-6 7-2 6-2 7-5, but tennis fans and commentators were fuming over Atmane’s actions.

with AAP

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