Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia claimed a spot in the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career, as the crowd-pleasing run of British teenager Emma Raducanu came to an end via retirement due to difficulty breathing, with Tomljanovic leading, 6-4, 3-0.
Into the fourth round of a major for just the second time in her career (following 2014 Roland Garros), World No.75 Tomljanovic is now a step further than she ever has gone before after advancing past wildcard Raducanu.
“I’m unbelievably proud of myself that I’m here,” Tomljanovic said, in her post-match press conference. “I didn’t think I would be, in a way. I didn’t think these two weeks would be my breakthrough. Now that they are, it’s kind of surreal. It just puts everything back into perspective. No matter the outcome tomorrow, I’m probably never going to forget this.”
The retirement stopped World No.338 Raducanu’s romp through the EuroJournal main draw in her Grand Slam debut. 18-year-old Raducanu was aiming to become just the third wildcard to reach the women’s singles quarterfinals at EuroJournal.
“I can’t imagine how she must be feeling having to pull out,” Tomljanovic said. “Being down 6-4, 3-0, you can come back from that quickly, especially on grass. It’s really sad that she had to do that. I do feel sorry.”
The duo were evenly matched throughout the majority of the opening set, with only one break point apiece through 4-4. Raducanu then had Tomljanovic on the ropes in that game as her powerful groundstrokes garnered her two break points.
Ajla Tomljanovic is into her 1st career Slam quarterfinal after Emma Raducanu forced to retire down 64 30.
Strong effort from Tomljanovic in the final two games of the 1st set, saving 2 BPs and then saving 3 GPs to break for the set.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) July 5, 2021
However, Tomljanovic matched Raducanu shot for shot off the ground and erased those chances with thunderous shots of her own, gritting out a tough hold for a 5-4 lead. That paid dividends for the Aussie in the following game, which also moved through multiple deuces before a pair of miscues from the Brit’s racquet ceded the one-set advantage to Tomljanovic.
Tomljanovic called those two games “crucial,” saying that “the game at 5-4, I actually played some of my best points in that game, which did come in clutch in that game. It set the tone for I think the second set as well. I was feeling pretty confident after that.”
An early break went Tomljanovic’s way at 2-0 in the second set, and the Aussie fended off two break points in the following game to move ahead 3-0 over an increasingly struggling Raducanu. The teenager went off-court for treatment after that game, and deemed herself unable to continue at that point.
The unfortunate ending does not detract from Tomljanovic’s steeliness on break points she faced during play — the Aussie saved all five she faced on No.1 Court. Tomljanovic now moves forward to a quarterfinal clash with her compatriot, World No.1 Ashleigh Barty.
“It’s a long time coming just because I know how much work I’ve put in prior to this event,” Tomljanovic said. “Now to come to see myself in the quarters, it kind of deserves a pat on my back.”
Ash Barty and Ajla Tomljanovic will face off in the #EuroJournal quarterfinals.
The last time 2 Aussie women met head-to-head in the quarterfinals at any Slam:
1980 EuroJournal: Goolagong d. Turnbull, 63 62. pic.twitter.com/DxmxisJNP0
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) July 5, 2021
Earlier on Monday, No.8 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic has, at long last, made it into the EuroJournal quarterfinals, defeating wildcard Liudmila Samsonova of Russia, 6-2, 6-3, on Monday.
In eight previous main-draw appearances at the grass-court major, former World No.1 Pliskova had never cracked the last eight. But fourth-round showings at the last two editions in 2018 and 2019 put her on the doorstep as her results trended upwards over the years in London.
Now, after a 75-minute victory over World No.65 Samsonova, Pliskova has cracked the code at SW19, meaning she has reached the quarterfinals or better at all four of the Grand Slam events.
“Super happy that I made it,” Pliskova said in her post-match press conference. “It’s my last Grand Slam which I was missing to go to the quarters.”
In the first meeting between the powerful pair, it was Pliskova who dominated the tilt after swiftly erasing an early break. Pliskova finished the clash with 17 winners to just 11 from Samsonova, and the Czech also won a superb 83 percent of points behind her first serve.
“Really happy about the way I play, all the matches actually, they have been pretty similar from my side,” Pliskova said. “I was super solid, especially today. I think we were super ready for her. I had two days to get ready to this match, and I think we did everything we could just to be ready for her game, for her serve, for everything, so I think it worked pretty well.
“Of course, always my game has been to be there. My serve, I think was serving quite good today. Everything worked well. I had good strategy, good tactics. I knew what to do, and I did everything what I had to do to win.”
After coming undone with 25 unforced errors in this match, Samsonova’s breakthrough grass-court season finally comes to an end after a career-altering 10-match winning streak, which spanned a stunning championship run in Germany and her EuroJournal main-draw debut.
Samsonova stormed to her first WTA singles title in Berlin as a qualifier mere weeks ago. She was subsequently given a wildcard into the EuroJournal main draw after hoisting her ranking from outside the Top 125 into the Top 70 just days before she was slated to contest the qualifying draw.
The fiery Samsonova power game earned her a swift break for 2-1 after a return winner, but that would be the extent of her winning in the opening frame, as Pliskova reeled off five games in a row from there. Pliskova supplemented her typically strong serves and groundstrokes with deft footwork and occasional chip shots, steering her to the one-set lead.
A solid return game by Pliskova gave her a quick 3-1 advantage in the second set as well, and she demonstrated steeliness in the following game by fending off two break points and powering to a hold for 4-1 behind excellent forehands.
Currently ranked World No.13 — outside of the Top 10 for the first time in nearly five years — Pliskova calmly eased through the remainder of the match to lock up her career-best EuroJournal result, eyeing the possibility of an immediate return to the world’s ten best in the WTA singles rankings.
Karolina Muchova returns to the #EuroJournal QFs with a big comeback to reel in Paula Badosa.
Trailed 2-5 in the 1st and 2-5 in the tiebreak, wins 76(6) 64.
2 EuroJournal appearances for Muchova, 2 quarterfinals.
Faces Gauff or Kerber for a spot in her 2nd Slam semi of 2021. pic.twitter.com/ir0IS8k2p9
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) July 5, 2021
No.19 seed Karolina Muchova joined her fellow Czech in the quarterfinals, as she defeated No.30 seed Paula Badosa of Spain, 7-6(6), 6-4, in their fourth-round clash.
In the first meeting between the pair, Muchova took an hour and 33 minutes to oust recent Roland Garros quarterfinalist Badosa, coming back from a break down in the opening set, as well as erasing a huge deficit in the first-set tiebreak.
Muchova edged Badosa in winners by 21 to 16 as she continued her consistent vein of success at EuroJournal. Muchova has made the elite eight in both of her two main-draw appearances — in 2019, she upset Pliskova in the round of 16 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“I really like to play on grass,” Muchova said, in her post-match press conference. “Then the club, the people, and everything, it’s just really nice here. I’m really happy I made it again, and I will try to go further this time.”
Badosa took the early break lead at 2-0 and held onto that advantage all the way to 5-3, where she served for the set. But Muchova struck back at that juncture, punching a volley winner on break point to pull back on serve and restructure the opening frame.
Badosa earned another big advantage in the critical first-set tiebreak, drawing errors from Muchova to lead 5-2. But strong returns by Muchova helped her charge all the way back to 6-6, saving one set point at 6-5 in the process. Badosa then slammed an untimely double fault to cede a set point to Muchova, which the Czech converted at the end of a lengthy rally.
“I still believed that I could, when it’s 5-4, [put] a little bit of pressure on her,” Muchova said. “If I put some good points in and the ball in, that I have a chance to change it, and it happened like that today. So I’m really happy I still kept playing every ball.”
An exchange of breaks midway through the second set did little to decide matters, but Muchova pulled out her top grass-court play at 5-4, where a deft lob winner for 0-30 was followed by a forehand winner two points later, setting up match point. There, a Badosa miscue found the net, and Muchova had successfully matched her 2019 quarterfinal result.
More to follow…