Ajla Tomljanovic's major reveal about Ash Barty amid US Open run

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Ajla Tomljanovic and Ash Barty, pictured here on the tennis court.
Ajla Tomljanovic has revealed how Ash Barty's retirement has spurred her on. Image: Getty

Ajla Tomljanovic has revealed how Ash Barty's retirement has inadvertently helped her go to a new level in her tennis career, with the mantle of being Australia's No.1 female player spurring her on.

Barty was World No.1 when she shocked the tennis world earlier this year by retiring at the age of 25 just after winning the Australian Open.

Tomljanovic went from being Australia's No.2 female player to No.1, and her performances on court have reflected that.

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Having never made a grand slam quarter-final in her 10 years on tour, the 29-year-old has gate-crashed three in the past 14 months.

Not satisfied with making 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 hard-court swing.

The Aussie star ended Serena Williams' storied career in the third round at the US Open, and also has wins over the No.4, 14, 18, 20 and 22nd-ranked players in the world over the last few weeks.

She will next will play Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur for a place in the US Open semi-finals on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST), in a match that will really show if she is a genuine grand slam contender.

Speaking before the match, Tomljanovic told AAP how the Barty factor and assuming the role of Australian 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 said.

"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."

Ash Barty, pictured here after beating Ajla Tomljanovic in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2021.
Ash Barty beat Ajla Tomljanovic in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2021. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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The US Open is the only grand slam that Barty never won, having claimed titles at the French Open in 2019, Wimbledon in 2021 and the Australian Open in 2022.

With Barty never making it past the fourth round in New York, Tomljanovic is actually the first Australian to make the women's singles quarter-finals at the US Open since Sam Stosur a decade ago.

Stosur famously beat Williams in her pomp to claim the trophy in 2011, and Tomljanovic said she isn't content with merely making another grand slam quarter-final.

"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."

Jabeur holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over Tomljanovic, but both matches were on clay and one of them was 10 years ago.

The Australian said she is expecting another 'tricky' match against the fifth seed and knows she'll need to bring 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.

with AAP

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