Tomljanovic to face Serena at US Open

·3-min read

Ajla Tomljanovic grew up idolising Serena Williams but is now only intent on ending the tennis legend's incomparable career.

Tomljanovic dug deep to set up a dream US Open showdown with the retiring Williams with a steely-eyed three-set comeback win over inspired Russian Evgeniya Rodina on Wednesday.

Australia's two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist fought back from a service break down deep in the deciding set to deny the unranked mother of two 1-6 6-2 7-5 in an intense baseline slugfest on Wednesday.

And the rewards don't come any bigger than a New York blockbuster at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night (9am Saturday AEST) against arguably the greatest women's player of all time in possibly Williams' last-ever match.

"Yeah, it's definitely something I'll never forget in my career. Definitely be something I have never experienced yet," Tomljanovic said.

"It's going to be a huge moment no matter the outcome. But no matter the fact that I've been a Serena fan since I was a kid, on Friday night I'll just be a competitor and I'll try my best to win."

Playing her 21st and last US Open after announcing this month she was "evolving away from tennis", the 41-year-old Williams confirmed her first-time meeting with Tomljanovic with a stirring 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 second-round victory over world No.2 Anett Kontaveit.

Tomljanovic feels it's a touch of fate that she finally gets to play the 23-times grand slam champion.

"I don't look at the draws, so I wasn't sure where she was but I did have a moment of, like, before the tournament started when I was in my bed and just thought about playing her here on Arthur Ashe before the draw came out," said the Aussie No.1.

"I'm glad that it's now in a third round.

"It's a little surreal to me that I made it and played in the same era as her, but I was quite sad before this tournament that I've never faced her so far. Could have been a chance I'll never play her before she retires."

While she desperately hopes to win and reach the second week at Flushing Meadows for the first time, Tomljanovic said it was an honour to feature in such a match regardless of the outcome.

"She's changed the sport, tennis, but also what she's done worldwide for women in sports is incredible," the 29-year-old said.

"She's paved the way for so many, inspired me to go for my dreams.

"Even her longevity. Like, I'm kind of in the part of my career now where they call you on the older side. She's made that kind of non-existent. 'Old' is not even a word in her vocabulary.

"I don't think there's anyone like her, obviously."