Ajla Tomljanovic eager to begin ‘new chapter’ at Aus Open

Australia’s top women’s singles contender Ajla Tomljanovic says she’s not yet in top shape but ready to be a dangerous opponent as she looks to begin a “new chapter” of her career.

Tomljanovic has only managed one match at a major since her withdrawal before the Australian Open last year after a frustrating battle with a knee injury, but is determined to put the year behind her and launch a run through the opening rounds at Melbourne Park.

The 30-year-old said her withdrawal from the Adelaide International this week was a call made to manage her workload rather than any issues with her troublesome knee.

“It just felt like the most sensible decision … every other year I probably would have gone,” she said.

“Four matches (at the United Cup) was plenty. If that was a regular tournament, you lose in a semi-final, I probably would have made the same decision.

“I’d be lying if I’m sitting here and being like, ‘this is the best I’ve ever felt’, because that’s not realistic, (but) I feel happy with where I’m at.”

Tomljanovic’s ranking slipped to No. 275 due to her repeat injury lay-offs in 2023 but the Croatian-born player was able to enter the Open on a protected ranking.

She said the long rehabilitation period had made her “emotionally stronger”, and she wanted the grand slam to mark a “new chapter” in her career.

“You don’t rehab yourself back if you’re not stubborn about getting back,” she said.

“There’s plenty of examples when athletes don’t get back where they believe they can, or they have less luck than me.

“That’s why I do feel lucky that my knee responded to everything we’ve done for it.”

Tomljanovic was very familiar with her Croatian first-round opponent Petra Martic, who she will meet on Sunday.

“I feel like I know her game quite well, and she knows mine,” Tomljanovic said.

“We kind of grew up together actually – she used to play with my sister, so we go way back.

“I’m always dangerous in these stages of the tournament, I still feel like people don’t want to play me, especially in the early rounds.

“There’s a lot of resilience that took place in 2023. It for sure will pay off.”

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