Ajla Tomljanovic's US Open run has been ended by Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals after the Aussie coughed up a 5-3 lead in the second set to bow out.
The World No.5 from Tunisia, Jabeur became the first Africa woman to make the semi-finals at the US Open after beating Tomljanovic 6-4 7-6 (7-4) on Tuesday.
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In a back-and-forth battle in which both players suffered multiple service breaks, Tomljanovic served for the second set at 5-3 but couldn't secure it.
The Aussie's serve let her down on the biggest stage as she produced nine double faults throughout the match, including two while serving for the second set.
Commentators noticed that Tomljanovic had her leg strapped for the match and suggested it might have hindered her service motion.
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.
Having made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in back-to-back years, Tomljanovic was looking to become the first Aussie woman to reach the semi-finals in New York since Sam Stosur a decade ago.
But it wasn't to be as Jabeur held her nerve under pressure to seal the match in the second set tie-breaker, advancing despite only making 40 per cent of her first serves.
Fans were left heartbroken for Tomljanovic as her impressive run - which included a win over the retiring Serena Williams in the second round - came to an end, with many lamenting her service woes.
On Ajla Tomljanovic:
I will never forget watching her beat Agnieszka Radwanska at the French Open in 2014 & then just *not show up* in her next match.
She has worked so hard to get so much better in every facet of her game, love the way she showcased it this fortnight.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) September 6, 2022
Ons Jabeur 🇹🇳 takes it 6-4 7-6
Alja Tomljanovic 🇦🇺 inexcusable to serve 2 DFs when serving for 2nd set and then again her 9th DF in the crucial tie break. Nerves.
Ons into the semi final to play either Gauff 🇺🇸 v Garcia 🇫🇷
— Chris Goldsmith (@TheTennisTalker) September 6, 2022
After getting broken, Jabeur gets the break back to go up 3-2.
Tomljanovic's serve has let her down today.#USOpen
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) September 6, 2022
Sad for Tomljanovic :(
— wantán (@maya2493) September 6, 2022
— Anees انيس M.D. (@BrownBlazerPDX) September 6, 2022
hard to fathom serving 40% first serve in the QF and winning a match, but Jabeur managed to do so.
Tomljanovic is going to have nightmares about the loss opportunity today
— rick marsonet (@RMarsonet) September 6, 2022
Jabeur said it “means a lot to me” if she can inspire other young players from Africa.
The 28-year-old apologised for throwing her racquet a number of times during the match, saying: “I wanted to keep calm but the racquet kept slipping from my hands.”
After making the Wimbledon final in July, Jabeur said: “I know that I have it in me that I can win a grand slam.”
Ruud beats Berrettini to make US Open semis
Casper Ruud earlier beat Matteo Berrettini 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to reach the semi-finals with a shot at the World No.1 ranking still on the line in New York.
The French Open runner-up beat Berrettini on clay in July's Gstaad final and looked just as effective on the hard court on Tuesday, hanging back behind the baseline to absorb the 13th seed's power.
Sprinting through a sublime first set in which he produced just two unforced errors, it looked like Ruud was on track for a blowout victory when he was up 5-1 in the second set.
But Berrettini, who was sidelined a number of times this season due to injury or illness, slowly began to find his usual level and appeared to have cracked the code in the third set when he broke Ruud in the second game and saved four breaks in the third.
But Ruud produced a terrific comeback, breaking Berrettini in the ninth game and never trailing in the tie-break.
"That was (a) better start than I ever had before in a match," Ruud said in an on-court interview, adding that he had to temper his enthusiasm in order to clinch the affair.
"Sometimes you can get a little overexcited and think you can walk on water," he said.
Ruud and third seed Carlos Alcaraz have a chance to seize the No.1 ranking at Flushing Meadows after current holder Daniil Medvedev crashed out at the hands of Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round.
"Of course it's a little bit (more) motivation," said Ruud. "I'm trying to go for it, of course."
Rafa Nadal can also go to World No.1 in a unique scenario if Ruud or Alcaraz don't make the final.
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