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July 3, 2021

Ajla Tomljanovic

Wimbledon, London, UK

Press Conference


4-6, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Well done for moving into the second week of Wimbledon for the first time. Obviously there was controversy with this match. Can you just give us your view on it? Ostapenko has just been in and has criticized you and said you had no right to say what you said because you didn't know what was going on with her. Can we hear your side of things?

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC: I mean, first of all, my feelings towards winning exceeds any drama that happened, because for me it's a huge moment in my career, especially with everything that I have been through. I'm extremely happy to be in the fourth round for the first time, especially here in Wimbledon.

As far as she goes, look, I have been in situations where players use that medical timeout to get their opponent off, usually when they are losing badly and when it's, like, the match was getting closer to the end. She can say she was injured. I don't think she was. There was nothing wrong with her the whole match, but then why on 4-0 she calls it?

So I think that that's a clear reason that she just wanted to get me off my game. Usually if you are dealing with an injury, at least this is how I go about it, you maybe say, Hey, can you call the physio on the next changeover? You don't just go and sit down when your opponent is about to serve to go up 5-Love potentially.

So that's one. Game-wise, there was nothing wrong with her, from my side. I have played her. I have played many people. I know when someone is injured and when they're not.

Then to top it all off, for her to call me disrespectful at the end of the match is just, at that point, it's laughable. I think it's disgraceful behavior from someone that is, you know, is a slam champion, because kids look at her and, what, they see that? I'm sorry, if she was injured, she could have gone about it in a way better way. Whatever she says, she can say. But this is my opinion on it.

Q. Do you think there should be a way to prevent players from doing this? It did suck out the momentum in the match and you did lose the next couple of games. It's a tactic you obviously question her gamesmanship.

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC: Yeah, I mean, there definitely should be a rule where we prevent that from happening, because it happens way too much in the women's game.

But I don't know then again how to do it, because sometimes there are legit injuries that you see happen and then it's different, right? But I also think it should be a better call from, I don't know -- I mean, the ref said it wasn't in her power, but maybe from the physio or whatever, but I guess you cannot deny medical help to a player.

The thing is you can always lie, but this is where sportsmanship comes into play. No matter the rule, this is where -- you know, we are, like, elite athletes in tennis, and I expect more. I mean, I'm in situations many times where I want to do anything to win, but you just don't cross certain things.

I mean, yeah, 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.

Q. What happens in that situation? Do you seek clarification from her and her team to find out if there was a legitimate injury or just move on and forget about it?

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC: Honestly, the big thing for me is that why I went off was because she went at 4-0 when I was about to serve. She could have waited one more game and got the physio. If she did that at 4-1 or 5-0, I would probably have a smirk, wouldn't say much to the ref, I would just ask, What's her injury? But the fact that she did it at 4-0 when I was about to serve, that's disrespectful. It's not what you did, especially at Wimbledon. It's like the pinnacle of sport, a place we played in. And you do that. I'm just honestly tired of it. I'm tired of it happening and seeing it happen. We can do better than that.

Oh, yeah, to answer your question, I mean, honestly I haven't asked her if she's okay. I don't think she probably even wants to talk to me. I wish her well. Like, if she had any sort of pain or injury, I hope she gets better. Doesn't excuse the way she did it.

Q. Is this an issue you're more sensitive to, particularly after what happened in the Hua Hin final with Yastremska? Do you have some history there? Also wondering what you make of Ostapenko (indiscernible) reputation, and also just even the match, what it's like playing her with how sort of wild and up-and-down player she can be game-wise?

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC: Yeah, I'm not going to lie. That match did come into play when this happened. I did think back to playing whoever I was playing back then. But you saw my reaction back then. I didn't make a scene. I was upset.

But I want to make it clear. For me it was a huge problem that it was at 4-0. I mean, up until then, I didn't have any problems with her. I played her before, and I know how she is. But I'm usually pretty good at blocking out stuff during the match. I mean, half the time I don't hear my own team, so I don't hear that stuff. It doesn't bother me.

But maybe the fact that it happened to me now a few times I was definitely more sensitive, and, yeah, I mean, I was up 4-0 with the momentum feeling great, and obviously she wasn't playing her best at that time. So I did get a little more emotional, but, I mean, I have no regrets with what I said to her, yeah.

Q. Game-wise, what's it like playing her with how up and down her game is?

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC: Well, I started the match, and after the rain delay, I told my dad, I'm feeling so slow. But it wasn't that I was that much slower. It's just that she plays fast and she plays deep and big. Then she has good hands, as well.

She really pressured me from the beginning, and I felt like if I just can get a few points where I get her just feeling the pressure a little bit score-wise, I knew that I would get an opening, and that's exactly what happened.

I didn't expect this third to go like that. I mean, you know, I was happy obviously, but I thought she played a little bit loose in the third, but with the way I played I think I forced her to give me more errors and get her feeling, you know, the pressure.

Q. You mentioned earlier that overcoming your problems, I'm just wondering what you've had to overcome to get to this point. And also, you're playing the new darling of British tennis, Emma Raducanu. She's a wildcard. Have you ever played her? Do you know anything about her? Do you think that she will have this advantage now with the crowd behind her?

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC: Yeah, well, I think when COVID hit, everyone struggled in their own ways. I didn't take it that well. And some of the issues I have had that maybe I didn't realize before came to surface, and it was really hard to deal at one point.

So it did reflect on my tennis, and, you know, I have dealt with -- I mean, nothing crazy. Just regular things that an athlete goes through. It just felt a little heightened in the times when we couldn't play, and then we're playing in bubbles and you're away from home a lot.

But in general, you know, my whole career, I always strive to do more and get better. Maybe I expected more from myself over the years and at the same time, putting in a lot of work. So I'm kind of waiting for that moment.

It got to me. I think, you know, at the age of 27 it definitely got to me where I'm, like, Well, when is it going to happen? When is it going to click? Then you question a lot of things.

So there were so many small steps that I had to take over the last year where, you know, wins that maybe to someone don't look big but to me were so precious. Making the fourth round here is just such a huge pat on the back to myself and the people around me that saw it. I'm very proud of that, no matter how I go from here.

Emma has been playing great. I haven't seen her play much, but I saw a few highlights from the match with Sorana. She seems like a really solid baseliner, big game. How great is it to make fourth round when you're 18 in your home slam? It's unbelievable.

She will definitely have the crowd, but I think it will be my first experience on a bigger court in Wimbledon, so crowd, no crowd, I think it's going to be so fun for me just go out there and play. Yeah, I hope we both play our best and whoever wins, wins.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about the wait that you had on court while she disappeared for a medical timeout? You must have been absolutely raging, and yet you somehow managed to control it all. Was there any worry when she came back, and again, she won the first game on the return, how did you manage to keep it all in focus?

AJLA TOMLJANOVIC: It was very tough mentally, because up until -- you know, the whole third set I felt I'm playing well, but, you know, it was still a battle for me just to keep it together mentally, because I have lost many, not many, but I have lost a few big matches in my career where I maybe could have made a difference, you know, like I could have made the second week of a slam or third round against really good players when I was up.

So already, that was an effort where I was like, okay, I'm doing well but it can still, you know, it can still switch. But then that came into play where she goes off court, which completely threw me off, and when she came back, yeah, I was definitely flustered, and I think it showed in that game, even though I got it back to 30-All. But I thought to myself, look, I have lost many matches that I thought I wouldn't and that still hurt to this day, so what's one more going to do if it happens?

So I kind of came to terms with that and just thought, okay, well, I'd rather be up 4-1 than in her position. So, yeah, I just thought one point at a time and got away with the win.

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