Ajla Tomljanovic has joined Nick Kyrgios in the US Open quarters, giving Australia a man and woman in the last eight in New York for the first time since 1984.
Ajla Tomljanovic has earned a crack at Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur after continuing her giant-killing US Open run to give Australia a women’s and men’s quarter-finalist at Flushing Meadows for the first time in almost 40 years.
Two days after spectacularly ending Serena Williams’ storied career, Tomljanovic snapped the 13-match, 18-set winning streak of Liudmila Samsonova with a tenacious 7-6 (10-8) 6-1 fightback against the red-hot Russian.
Just as she did in her against-the-odds win over Williams, Tomljanovic again displayed extraordinary mental resilience, this time on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The 29-year-old battled back from 5-2 down in the opening set and saved eight set points in an epic 18-minute game to draw level at 5-5.
After fending off her eighth set point in the tiebreaker to snatch the set, Tomljanovic seemingly broke Samsonova’s spirit.
Tomljanovic said she probably would have panicked had she known the pivotal 10th game of the match lasted almost 20 minutes.
“I think it’s just about staying in the moment because she played well and I don’t really have time to dwell because the game is going by quickly,” she said.
“I’m just trying to stay as calm as long as possible even though inside I’m dying.”
Tomljanovic has now reached back-to-back grand slam quarter-finals, after making the last eight at Wimbledon six weeks ago for the second year in a row.
“It just feels really good to back up a win that got a lot of attention,” said the Australian No.1.
“Just felt like it’s been a really big 48 hours. I didn’t really feel like myself today the whole day.
“I don’t know, just felt a little bit drained. After that slow start, I just didn’t want to go out like that.
“Picked myself up, fought back really hard, played some quality tennis after that.”
Guaranteed a new career-high ranking inside the world’s top 35 after this tournament, Tomljanovic will play Jabeur on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) after the fifth-seeded Tunisian also beat a Russian, Veronika Kudermetova, by the same 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 scoreline.
Eyeing a maiden grand slam semi-final appearance, Tomljanovic believes reaching the last eight in three of the past six majors is a bit of karma.
“It’s really nice. I think a lot of heartbreaks that have happened over a long time, I feel like this is a what-goes-around-comes-around moment for me,” she said.
“Especially the long matches that I’ve lost in the past, now I’m winning them.
“I think for that reason I’m more calm in those moments. Yeah, it just feels nice, like the work is paying off.”
With Kyrgios upsetting top-seeding defending champion Daniil Medvedev to also reach the last eight on Sunday night, Australia has representatives in the men’s and women’s singles quarters-finals in New York for the first time since Pat Cash and Wendy Turnbull in 1984.
Kyrgios, ranked 25th in the world, flirted with the self-destruct button at times and took part in a heated exchange with umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore.
But he overcame the odds to prevail 7-6 (13-11) 3-6 6-3 6-2 against the world number one.
During the match in New York, Medvedev fumed at the umpire for not warning Kyrgios after the Australian, frustrated at going down an early break in the second set, went within centimetres of hitting a ball into the first row of the stands, and likely a spectator.
Medvedev then threatened to quit if someone from Kyrgios’s courtside entourage was not ejected for disrupting the top seed between his first and second serves.
“They cannot do it,” Medvedev raged.
“If they do it a second time, I am not playing they’re out, until somebody is out.”
After levelling the match at a set apiece, Medvedev received an extraordinary, possibly unprecedented, gift from Kyrgios.
After looking to have earned a break point in the second game of the third set, when Medvedev couldn’t return a ball, Kyrgios ran around the net celebrating and hit the ball away for a mock winner.
Quite rightly, though, Asderaki-Moore awarded the point to Medvedev because the Russian’s shot, while clearly not going over the net, was “still in play”.
“I thought it was legal,” Kyrgios said, shaking off the blunder, somewhat uncharacteristically, before breaking Medvedev on his next service game to claim a 3-1 lead, then going on to seize a two-sets-to-one lead.
Kyrgios will go on to play another Russian, Karen Khachanov, in the quarter-final on Wednesday.
Article and photo Credit: SBS/Gettymage