Sport Aussie tennis champions go head-to-head in quarter-final clash at Wimbledon
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Aussie tennis champions go head-to-head in quarter-final clash at Wimbledon

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Two Australian champions Ash Barty and Ajla Tomljanovic will go head-to-head in the quarter finals at Wimbledon for the first time.

World No.1 Ash Barty will meet “mate” and compatriot Croatian-born Australian Tomljanovic, 28, with both advancing to their first singles quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

The pair through to the last of four matches on the women’s draw and will meet at 1.30am on Wednesday (Australian time).

Tomljanovic, who progressed through the round of 16 after British teen sensation Emma Raducanu was forced to retire in the second set, is seen as a new, mentally strong opponent for Barty.

Raducanu was trailing 4-6 0-3 against the Aussie star when she called a medical timeout and left the court.

Despite struggling with her serve, Barty, 25, toughed it out and delivered an ace on match point to end Krejcikova’s 15-match winning streak in the 7-5 6-3 victory on Court 1 on the tournament’s famous second-week ‘Manic Monday’.

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Ajla Tomljanovic in action against Emma Raducanu on Monday. Photo: AAP

Ajla prepares for biggest match of her career

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 as she prepares for the biggest match of her career against Barty.

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

She reckons she’s at last found a new mental resolve at Wimbledon, which has translated into 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 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 battled it out to win matches she reckons she might have once lost, like 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. OK, 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 Raducanu in their last-16 match.

“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.”

Advice from boyfriend Matteo Berrettini, who’s also in the last-eight of the men’s event, before the Raducanu match will ring in her ears too.

“It’s going to be a privilege to be out there,” he said.

“Just feel the energy.”