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Ajla Tomljanovic in eye-opening post-match moment after opponent's 'disgraceful' act

The Aussie player joined Thanasi Kokkinakis and Max Purcell in bowing out of the Australian Open on Thursday.

Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko at the Australian Open.
Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko have buried the hatchet. Image: Getty

Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko have buried the hatchet and shared a nice moment at the net after the Latvian knocked her Aussie opponent out of the Australian Open on Thursday night. Tomljanovic threatened to produce a second-consecutive comeback when she took the second set, but eventually fell to her rival 6-0 3-6 6-4.

The encounter had been billed as a grudge match due to the nasty spat the two players were involved in at Wimbledon in 2021. On that occasion, Tomljanovic accused Ostapenko of lying about an injury deep in the third set so she could take a timeout and try to break the Aussie's momentum.

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Ostapenko was down 0-4 in the third set when she called for the trainer, and although she won the next two games she went on to lose the match. Ostapenko then labelled Tomljanovic's behaviour "terrible" as the two engaged in a war-of-words at the side of the court, while the Aussie later shot back that Ostapenko was "disgraceful".

Tomljanovic had calmed any lingering tension ahead of Thursday's match, and their classy post-match exchange showed it's all water under the bridge. Both players smiled and shared some nice words as they shook hands following the back-and-forth encounter.

"What happened, happened in the past. It's water under the bridge now," Tomljanovic said in her press conference. "I think there is mutual respect between her and I. She was really kind with her words when we shook hands at the net and she said she was happy to see me back. As a competitor, I really appreciate. I just said good luck to her."

Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko, pictured here after their match at the Australian Open.
Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko had a nice exchange after their match at the Australian Open. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Ajla Tomljanovic joins Thanasi Kokkinakis and Max Purcell

Tomljanovic's loss means Alex de Minaur and Storm Hunter are the only Aussies remaining in the singles draws. Tomljanovic joined Thanasi Kokkinakis and Max Purcell as local players to exit the grand slam on Thursday. Kokkinakis was outplayed by Bulgarian 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4, while Purcell pushed 11th seed Casper Ruud to the brink before succumbing 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (10-7).

Despite the loss, Tomljanovic was taking plenty of positives from her time at Melbourne Park after she missed the 2023 tournament due to a serious knee injury. "It's a bit mixed," she said. "If I can kind of summarise this Aussie summer, I'm pretty happy with where I'm at and how I've responded under pressure really because as much as I'm kind of coming back, I did expect myself to play well.

"So I definitely think I just need more court time and it will come at some point. I feel like I'm on the right track, but I have to keep working. When I do think back to 12 months ago, I just feel lucky that I'm here because nothing is granted once you go through something like that.

"I already kind of in my mind am excited about the next tournaments. I'm really hungry just to keep playing because my body is holding up well, and I'm super happy about that. I'm still in doubles (with Daria Saville), so the dream is not over yet."

Ostapenko said she knew Tomljanovic would fight back despite bagelling her in the first set 6-0. "Sometimes, when the first set goes too easy, when you play too well, it's kind of the hardest part of the game as I knew it was not going to be easy in the second set because I played really well in the first," she said. "I'm really glad I managed to win in the third and I'm happy to be through."

with AAP

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