Ajla Tomljanovic opponent's 'disgraceful' act re-kindled after Australian Open win

The Aussie produced an incredible comeback to set up a grudge match with Jelena Ostapenko.

Jelena Ostapenko and Ajla Tomljanovic, pictured here at the Australian Open.
Jelena Ostapenko and Ajla Tomljanovic will clash in the second round of the Australian Open. Image: Getty

Ajla Tomljanovic has set up a grudge match with Jelena Ostapenko at the Australian Open after pulling off an incredible comeback win in the first round on Tuesday night. The Aussie star was down 1-4 in the third set against Petra Martic, but stormed home to prevail 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4.

The 30-year-old was overjoyed to secure the victory after missing last year's Australian Open due to a knee injury. "I really was out at one point," she said after the two-hour, 53-minute match finished after midnight.

"I mean, I felt like she was kind of toying with me and I couldn't read her serve. But 4-1 down, double break, you guys (the crowd) never gave up even more than me. I was like 'if you're here, I should give it my best' ... I'm really grateful that you all stayed this late."

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The win sets up a mouth-watering clash with Ostapenko, with whom Tomljanovic clashed at Wimbledon in a fiery on-court spat in 2021. Ostapenko was trailing 0-4 in the final set of that match when she insisted she needed a medical timeout for an abdominal injury.

Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko, pictured here at Wimbledon in 2021.
Ajla Tomljanovic had a heated clash with Jelena Ostapenko at Wimbledon in 2021. Image: BBC

Tomljanovic accused Ostapenko of gamesmanship and protested to the chair umpire, saying: "You know she's lying, right ... we all know". Ostapenko won the next two games, but Tomljanovic managed to prevail 4-6 6-4 6-2.

The players then exchanged heated words at the net, before also trading barbs in their respective press conferences. Ostapenko said she had "zero respect" for Tomljanovic and her behaviour was "terrible", and the Aussie retorted that the Latvian player was "disgraceful".

Ajla Tomljanovic dismisses beef with Jelena Ostapenko

But Tomljanovic quickly moved to quash any lingering beef between the pair in her press conference on Tuesday night. "What happened happened. It's been a while," she said. "I think we played each other after once more (at Eastbourne in 2022), and she beat me.

"Look, I have respect for her as a player. What happened, that was just in that moment. I just reacted. We never spoke about it. We're both going to be competitive, that's for sure. I do think at least from my side I respect her as a tennis player. In that moment, I wasn't happy."

Ostapenko also wouldn't be drawn on the spat, telling AAP: "There were some situations, but I don't look back at it." The Latvian took down another Aussie in Kim Birrell to set up the Tomljanovic showdown, winning 7-6 (7-5) 6-1.

"I've beaten her a couple of times," she said about Tomljanovic. "It's not going to be an easy match but I will more try to focus more on myself and my game."

Ajla Tomljanovic, pictured here after her win at the Australian Open.
Ajla Tomljanovic waves to fans after her win at the Australian Open. (Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

Tomljanovic was quick to claim underdog status, saying: "I'm definitely the underdog. I love that. But I feel like playing her in the second round, I'm probably going to hopefully play even better than I did today."

The Aussie star's emotional victory delighted tennis fans on Tuesday night. Many were happy to see her advance after an injury-plagued 12 months.

"She really keeps you on your toes," she said about Martic. "I felt like I never really got settled to play my game because she hits amazing shots. Then I can't read her serve all the time so I felt like I really had to hang in there because I knew it could turn on a dime. Look, there was a bit of luck tonight and I'll take it." Fans were also excited to see Tomljanovic and Ostapenko go head-to-head once again.

with AAP

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