The Barty factor behind Tomljanovic's rise

·3-min read

Ajla Tomljanovic has revealed how succeeding Ash Barty as Australian No.1 has subconsciously helped take her tennis to exciting new levels.

Tomljanovic will play Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur for a place in the US Open semi-finals on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) after continuing her incredible transformation from top-50 stalwart to grand slam contender.

Having never made a grand slam quarter-final in her first decade on tour, suddenly the 29-year-old has gate-crashed three in the past 14 months.

Not satisfied with back-to-back last-eight appearances at Wimbledon, Tomljanovic has followed up her latest run at the All England Club with 14 wins from 18 matches during the American summer swing.

While Serena Williams in the US Open second round has been her most prized scalp, Tomljanovic has also accounted for the world's No.4, No.14, No.18, No.20 and No.22-ranked players during her hard-court tear.

She says the Barty factor and assuming the role of Australian women's No.1 in the absence of the three-time grand slam champion has undoubtedly helped her tennis.

"I've never felt like I needed to step exactly into Ash's shoes because I think it's impossible and she's Ash and I'm Ajla and we'll always be different," Tomljanovic told AAP.

"But I have felt a bit of pressure and maybe responsibility to just up my game.

"And not that I've been thinking about it but I think subconsciously it's helped.

"Just the whole situation (of Barty retiring) has helped me in a way just to develop more and take on more responsibility and kind of have less doubts because when you're backed in the corner you respond quicker."

With Barty never progressing beyond the fourth round of the US Open, Tomljanovic is the first Australian to make the women's singles quarter-finals in New York since Samantha Stosur a decade ago.

But while yet not allowing herself to dream of lifting the trophy, like Stosur did in 2011 after beating Williams in the final, Tomljanovic isn't content with merely another grand slam quarter-final showing.

"I definitely don't have that feeling that maybe I had last year where I was maybe a little bit satisfied with making the quarters," she said.

"Now I'm obviously great, happy, first time in US Open, but I'm feeling still really hungry, which I like."

Tomljanovic has lost both her previous meetings with fifth-seed Jabeur, but both were on clay and one of them 10 years ago.

The Australian expects another "tricky" match and knows she'll need her A game.

The winner will play either American teenage sensation Coco Gauff or Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia on Thursday (Friday AEST) for a spot in the final.

HOW AJLA TOMLJANOVIC AND ONS JABEUR MATCH UP AHEAD OF THEIR US OPEN QUARTER-FINAL (ABOUT 5AM WEDNESDAY AEST):

5-ONS JABEUR (TUN) leads AJLA TOMLJANOVIC (AUS) 2-0

2022 Rome, clay, R32, Jabeur 7-5 6-2

2012 Casablanca, clay, QF, Jabeur 4-6 6-4 6-0

ONS JABEUR

Age: 28

Ranking: 5

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US7,659,743 ($A11m)

Career titles: 3

Grand slam titles: 0

US Open win-loss record: 11-6

Best US Open result: quarter-finals 2022

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC

Age: 29

Ranking: 46

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US5,163,183 ($A7.6m)

Career titles: 0

Grand slam titles: 0

US Open win-loss record: 10-8

Best US Open result: quarter-finals 2022