No regrets for Ajla after Wimbledon row

·3-min read

Ajla Tomljanovic is quite unrepentant about accusing her Wimbledon third-round victim Jelena Ostapenko of lying, saying tennis bosses should introduce rules to weed out players who fake injury.

And she couldn't care less about insults from Ostapenko, who called the Australian "disrespectful" and the "worst player on tour" during one of Wimbledon's great on-court bust-ups.

She is too busy looking forward to her first last-16 contest at a grand slam for seven years.

The flashpoint on Saturday came when Ostapenko, who'd imploded in the third set to go 4-0 down, suddenly sat down at courtside as Tomljanovic was preparing to serve and demanded the umpire call for the trainer to treat an abdominal injury.

As there'd been no hint she'd been injured but only signs of a player mentally unravelling, Tomljanovic was incensed, telling chair umpire Fiona Edwards in front of 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko: "You know she's lying, right? We all know".

Despite the supervisor being called at Tomljanovic's insistence, it was ruled the Latvian could leave court with the trainer for treatment and, after an inordinately long wait for her to return, Ostapenko was revived enough to win the next game.

But Tomljanovic regained her cool and went on to a 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory, arguably the biggest of her career.

The row continued at the net with Tomljanovic grudgingly accepting a handshake before the pair exchanged barbs, accusing each other of disrespect.

The war of words escalated at their respective press conferences, with Tomljanovic not backing down and insisting: "So I did get a little more emotional, but, I mean, I have no regrets with what I said to her.

"I think it's disgraceful behaviour from someone who's a slam champion, because kids look at her and, what, they see that?

"There definitely should be a rule where we prevent that from happening, because it happens way too much in the women's game.

"I have been in situations where players use that medical timeout to get their opponent off, usually when they are losing badly and when the match was getting closer to the end.

"The thing is you can always lie, but this is where sportsmanship comes into play.

"No matter the rule, we are elite athletes in tennis, and I expect more.

"I'm in situations many times where I want to do anything to win, but you just don't cross (the line on) certain things.

"I mean, I wish there was a new rule, maybe just that we use it when someone is really in crazy pain. I don't know what to say."

Tomljanovic believes she's suffered before, losing the chance to claim an only WTA tournament title in the 2019 Thailand Open final when her opponent Dayana Yastremska, 5-2 down in the final set, had the trainer treat a leg injury and came back to win.

"I'm not going to lie. That match did come into play when this happened," said Tomljanovic.

Ostapenko, for her part, was adamant she'd been struggling with the injury from the second set, saying her accusation that Tomljanovic was the "worst player on tour" was because of her disrespect.

It was all water off a duck's back to the 28-year-old Australian, who said: "My feelings towards winning exceeds any drama that happened - because for me it's a huge moment in my career."

She revealed she'd had struggles with her game and mindset during the pandemic and had wondered whether, after years of trying to live up to her early career promise in Croatia, she'd ever make a breakthrough again.

Well, she has - and, on Monday, will meet 18-year-old British wildcard Emma Raducanu, ranked 338th in the world, with a golden opportunity of reaching her first grand slam quarter-final at the 27th attempt.

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