Australia's top women's player, Ajla Tomljanovic, is set to be sidelined for several months after being forced with withdraw from the Australian Open before it began. The 29-year-old cited the need for a 'minor procedure' on her injured knee, revealing on Saturday that she had undergone surgery.
Tomljanovic left Aussie fans heartbroken with the withdrawal, which shortly before men's counterpart Nick Kyrgios revealed a knee injury of his own. In one fell swoop, Australia's two highest ranked players were out of their home grand slam.
'CAN'T BELIEVE IT': Daniil Medvedev at centre of 'crazy' dramas
The withdrawal of the two Australian stars, both whom having featured in Netflix's Break Point series which premiered just before the grand slam, has contributed to fans declaring a 'Netflix curse' at the tournament. Of the 10 players featured in the series only one, Felix Auger-Aliassime, remains in contention.
Tomljanovic was amused by the occurrence, jokingly suggesting to high-profile tennis writer Jose Morgado to 'stop with the curse' after Maria Sakkari became the latest star featured in the series to crash out of the Australian Open. She was a little more serious on Saturday morning, when she announced to fans the lengthy recovery from her procedure.
“This morning I had a minor procedure done on my knee that went very well,” she wrote. "Sadly I won’t be around the next few months, but I’m happy I did the necessary steps to get fully healthy. Great things take time and rehab starts very soon! I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Representing the biggest hope for Australia after the retirement of Ash Barty in 2022, Tomljanovic was left bitterly disappointed by the timing of her injury. In an emotional press conference, she said she had felt like a 'contender' in the weeks leading up to the Australian Open, only for it to be ruined at the last moment.
“If you ask me, this is probably the worst timing ever. I’m sure I would have said that even if it happened in six months [but] if I’m taking a 15-second pity party, this shouldn’t have happened now," she said. "It’s the time when I’m feeling my best self in every way; coming into a slam truly feeling like I deserve to be even a contender. I mean, I feel that way. I’m not coming out here and faking that.
“So, in a way, am I going to have to start from scratch? Probably not. It feels a little unfair, but life’s unfair. Part of our job, injuries will happen.”
If I’m an ATP player, I want nothing to do with the next season of @netflix Break Point.
Kyrgios, Ruud, Berrettini, Fritz all out of the Aussie before Round 3.
Tomljanovic also pulled out.
The curse is REAL.
— Matt “Pickleball Mcnasty” Manasse (@Matt_Manasse) January 19, 2023
Ajla Tomljanović 🇦🇺 announces that she’s had a minor procedure done on her knee that will keep her away from tennis for the next few months 😔
Hope the rehab goes well and we’ll see you back on court soon @Ajlatom! https://t.co/i8SKs1EDhy
— First Serve Tennis Podcast (@FirstServeTnnis) January 21, 2023
Marin Cilic and Ajla Tomljanovic have both posted messages to say they have had procedures done on leg injuries. Both, it seems, will be of for a while with Ajla saying she "won't be around the next few months".
— Craig Gabriel (@crosscourt1) January 20, 2023
Get well, Ajla... missing you on the tennis 🎾 circus 🎪 ...
— Francisᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ༝༝ (@francisdalfo) January 21, 2023
Aussies' run at home grand slam ruined by injuries
Tomljanovic's untimely injury setback came after the 29-year-old enjoyed her finest grand slam season in 2022. She reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the second straight year before backing up to also make the last eight at the US Open in September.
Tomljanovic famously end Serena Williams' decorated career in New York, en route to becoming the first Australian woman since former world No.1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1979 to reach the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open in a calendar year.
Tomljanovic had been in line to nab a grand slam seeding for the first time at Melbourne Park, before the knee issue forced her out of the season-opening United Cup. Also instrumental in Australia's run to the Billie Jean King Cup final, Tomljanovic dropped two spots in the rankings after being sidelined from the new mixed teams' event.
Her absence robbed her of an Open seeding before she opted to pull the pin before a scheduled first-round clash with Argentine Nadia Podoroska. However Tomljanovic was far from the biggest name hit by the injury bug at the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal is expected to be sidelined for between six and eight weeks with the injury he suffered at Melbourne Mark. The Spaniard's reign as champion ended prematurely in the second round with defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald.
Nadal pulled up suddenly late in Wednesday's second set and clutched at his left hip. He opted to finish the match after an off-court medical timeout but his movement was severely hampered. The 36-year-old underwent a scan in Melbourne on Thursday morning that showed a grade two tear of his iliopsoas muscle.
An update from Nadal's team said he would return to Spain for a period of rest and treatment, with the normal recovery time for the injury from six to eight weeks.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.