Barty faces a new, mentally strong Ajla

·3-min read

Ajla Tomljanovic says she's a "glass half-empty" woman when it comes to fretting over her tennis career, but that glass is brimming over right now as she prepares for the biggest match of her career against Ash Barty at Wimbledon.

Australian No.2 Tomljanovic is realistic enough to know it will be one of the great tennis earthquakes if she, the 75th ranked WTA player in her first grand slam quarter-final, beats her mate, the world No.1 and former French Open champion Barty, on Tuesday.

Yet the 28-year-old, who's never fulfilled the lavish expectations once held for her as a brilliant youngster in Croatia, reckons she's at last found a new mental resolve here at Wimbledon which has translated into simply the finest week of her career.

And she's decided the best way to go into her first match with Barty on Centre Court is to follow the same "really, really small steps" that earned her four fine wins here, including those over French star Alize Cornet and ex-Roland Garros champ Jelena Ostapenko.

"I will be honest. I don't think I'm going into matches thinking, 'I'm going to win.' I'm just going in thinking, 'if I take care of myself and what I can do, I have a really good shot'.

"It's been getting me through until the quarters. So I'm not changing anything!"

She's been battling it out here to win matches she reckons she might have once lost, like her painful narrow losses to Simona Halep (2021), Garbine Muguruza (2020) and Sloane Stephens (2014) at the Australian Open.

"I'm just proud that I faced some tough moments in this tournament so far, and handled it well mentally. That wasn't the case sometimes in my career.

"It did play a part in my mind. Okay, is this going to happen again? Am I going to lose it mentally? Am I going to choke or something?

"I do remember all the bad matches I've played, instead of the good ones - me always kind of being glass half-empty.

"Mentally those matches (against Halep, Muguruza and Stephens) took a little bit of a toll. It got to me a little bit. It got in my head.

"But I had to put my head down and keep working and not think about those matches, think in a positive way. It's not easy.

"But I've been working on it. To come through and really work on that side of my mentality, it's been big."

That strength helped her when the crowd were roaring on Emma Raducanu in their last-16 match.

Tomljanovic stayed strong and professional against the new British teenage heroine, having taken the first set before the youngster, sadly, had to pull out with breathing problems.

It was after 9pm by the time her match on Court One finished, because Wimbledon had scheduled Raducanu as prime time evening viewing, while Barty had the luxury of a much earlier start and longer turnaround.

But Tomljanovic wasn't complaining. "I was just happy to get a big court. I would have taken a later slot just to play on Court 1 or Centre. It's so special out there. So I don't mind the quick turnaround."

The advice her boyfriend Matteo Berrettini, who's also in the last-eight of the men's event, gave her before the Raducanu match will ring in her ears too.

"It's going to be a privilege to be out there," he told her. "Just feel the energy."

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