Monday, June 17, 2024

Tomljanovic ousted in nightmare day for Aussies

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Ajla Tomljanovic is one of three Aussies who have bowed out in the opening round of the French Open, with Chris O’Connell a late withdrawal from the competition.

Tomljanovic was a wildcard entry into Roland Garros, playing her second full match in four months after a gruelling 18-month run of setbacks.

The 31-year-old got off to an excellent start against 30th seed Dayana Yastremska, banking the first set, however the match quickly turned, with Tomlajnovic the first Aussie to leave the Grand Slam tournament, defeated 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

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Tomljanovic’s exit means Daria Saville is the only Aussie woman left in the tournament and is set to face off against 12th seed Jasmine Paolini on Monday night (AEST).

Although her French Open run was short-lived, Tomljanovic conceded that she has not returned as the same athlete she was prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2022, as she reflected on her loss with reporters following the match.

“Obviously, I’m very disappointed. I felt like I had so many chances in that second set,” Tomljanovic said.

“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.

“I should not leave this place having negative thoughts because it is only up from here, and my body so far has pulled up well, so that is a great thing.

“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 keep going, but it definitely has been very challenging.

“It’s just I feel like I have to almost reprogram 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 [to] where I was’ – but that’s gone.

“A lot of time has passed and I’m here now. It’s a process, for sure.”

Aleksandar Vukic was the next Aussie to fall, with his defeat to China’s Zhang Zhizhen compounded by an injury complaint, while Germany’s Maximilian Marterer crushed Jordan Thompson – who has failed to advance past the opening round in the past five years – in straight sets.

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Vukic said he expects he can return to the courts in time for Wimbledon, with the 28-year-old still undergoing treatment for adductor issues.

“I’ve no doubt that I’ll be fine by then. It feels like it’s on the verge of being a bad one,” said Vukic.

“There was a chance to make it worse [by playing], but we took the risk, and I don’t think it has got any worse, so I think it’s still all very manageable.”

Seven other Aussies are yet to begin their Roland Garros campaigns, with Alex de Minaur taking on America’s Alex Michelsen on Monday night.

Meanwhile, Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was the only Australian to advance through to the third round last year, will play fellow Aussie Alexei Popyrin.

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