Tomljanovic to savour special grand slams

·3-min read

Ajla Tomljanovic will reluctantly celebrate her breakout grand slam season after having her inspired US Open run come to an end at the hands of tennis history-maker Ons Jabeur.

Runner-up at Wimbledon, Jabeur delivered a centre-court masterclass to subdue the tenacious Tomljanovic 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in a high-quality quarter-final in New York.

The first Australian to make the women's last eight at Flushing Meadows since former champion Samantha Stosur a decade ago, Tomljanovic went down swinging.

The two combatants produced an intense baseline slugfest, full of long, absorbing rallies under a closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium after a morning of rain in NYC.

But, for all Tomljanovic's resilience and endeavour, the dual Wimbledon quarter-finalist was left to rue nine double faults as Jabeur became the first African woman ever to make the US Open semis.

The crafty Tunisian's clever variety ultimately proved the difference, as the fifth seed's spins, slices and delicately diced overheads earned the 26-year-old a last-four clash with Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia.

But victory was anything but straightforward for Jabeur, who conceded she may have to relinquish her role as Tunisia's "Minister for Happiness" after twice smashing her racquet as Tomljanovic withstood 29 winners from the world No.5 to threaten another big upset.

The unseeded Australian had claimed the scalps of six-times champion Serena Williams and red-hot Russian Liudmula Samsonova in another memorable grand slam charge.

"Ons played great. I was pretty disappointed with my serving today. That's the biggest thing that let me down," Tomljanovic said.

Despite the defeat, Tomljanovic will leave New York with a career-high ranking of No.34 in the world and a whole new fan base after winning over the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd with her pulsating victory against the retiring Williams in the most-watched tennis match in ESPN's 43-year history.

Tomljanovic also made the quarters at Wimbledon for the second straight year but, as her own harshest judge, said she'd been too busy improving her game to reflect on her successes.

"It still felt like there was work to be done," she said.

"But now I'm already thinking about what I'm playing next, so I probably should reflect a little bit and just give myself a little pat on the back because I do deserve it.

"It's probably my biggest thing that I'm bad at that I just don't give myself enough credit. I'm very hard on myself."

The 29-year-old admits the negativity often drives her.

"Like sometimes I'm scared to almost get happy because I feel like I'm going to jinx myself for the next one or get too excited," Tomljanovic said.

"Yeah, there is like a mental block that I have with that stuff.

"But then the thing is when I'm doing badly, I'm tough on myself too.

"So I'm either levelled or I'm negative. And that's not healthy.

"But it's also how I'm wired, and it's the reason I have come back from so many tough moments.

"It's a blessing and a curse. I'm happy to be that way, but I just need to be smarter, like recognise that this isn't the time to be hard on myself.

"This is the time to take the good and celebrate that, and then tomorrow we keep going."