Ajla Tomljanovic cries and admits ‘I didn’t think I could do it’ after comeback Wimbledon win

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Ajla Tomljanovic has continued to fly the Aussie standard handed over by Ash Barty, surviving a nervy final set to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Watched from the stands by Aussie great Margaret Court, the new national No.1 battled back from losing the first set to defeat French giant-killer Alize Cornet 4-6 6-4 6-3 on Monday.

In doing so, she became the first Australian woman into successive quarter-finals at Wimbledon since Jelena Dokic 22 years ago.

It wasn’t easy though. Tomljanovic went 5-1 up in the decider only for Cornet, who stunned world No.1 Iga Swiatek in the last round, to fight back to serve at 3-5.

Tomljanovic made the stunning admission that she didn't think she could compete with Alize Cornet's physicality just after coming back from a set down to progress at Wimbledon

Tomljanovic made the stunning admission that she didn’t think she could compete with Alize Cornet’s physicality just after coming back from a set down to progress at Wimbledon 

'I've had tough moments this year,' the Aussie said after the match as her victory got her through to the quarter finals for the second straight time at the All England Club

‘I’ve had tough moments this year,’ the Aussie said after the match as her victory got her through to the quarter finals for the second straight time at the All England Club

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Tomljanovic, however, has been brimming with belief this Wimbledon.

She was further fired up by a pre-match chat with mentor Chris Evert, a three-time Wimbledon winner, who told her she belonged on the stage and would reach the last eight.

Regrouping, Tomljanovic forced two match points and was undeterred when both were saved.

The 29-year-old secured a third shot at victory after an incredible 26-stroke rally at deuce in which the two criss-crossed the court.

The point typified a two hours, 35 minutes slugfest in which both players gave their all.

This time Tomljanovic finished the job with a cross-court shot at the net that just landed in court, prompting an anxious wait before the umpire said, ‘game, set and match…’.

Cornet cut a forlorn figure after fighting hard in the loss, which came on the heels of her giant-killing effort to beat world No.1 Iga Swiatek

Cornet cut a forlorn figure after fighting hard in the loss, which came on the heels of her giant-killing effort to beat world No.1 Iga Swiatek

‘I didn’t think I could do it,’ said an emotional Tomljanovic, who was in tears courtside.

‘I didn’t know if I could keep up my physicality and she [Cornet] never goes away.

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‘I had such great memories from last year [when Tomljanovic lost to Barty in her first grand slam quarter-final] and I look back and think I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should.

‘I’ve had tough moments this year and now a year on, I am here again.’

Making the victory even sweeter was the presence of mother Emina in the stands.

Last year COVID-19 restrictions meant she did not travel to London and she was too nervous to watch her daughter’s matches on TV.

‘She was at home in Florida,’ said Tomljanovic.

‘I could tell she wasn’t watching. She would walk the dog for hours and then check the score. I was so mad at her because I was like, ‘What if I’m never going to do this again, you missed it’. It is not easy to make the quarter-final.

‘But she is my biggest cheerleader,’ added Tomljanovic who had said on court post-match, ‘Here you go, Mum, you’re welcome!’

Tomljanovic's father Ratko only booked her hotel room until the end of the second round in what the star called a piece of 'reverse psychology'

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Tomljanovic’s father Ratko only booked her hotel room until the end of the second round in what the star called a piece of ‘reverse psychology’

Victory meant her travel agent – father Ratko – has yet again extended her hotel room. He had initially only booked to the end of the second round on Friday, prompting Tomljanovic to suggest he lacked faith in her.

‘I play Wednesday, so it’s probably only until Thursday morning – maybe it is reverse psychology for him,’ she said.

Then she added with a smile: ‘Fortunately, they have rooms – but even if I have to share the room with a stranger, I am not leaving that hotel!’

In the last eight, Tomljanovic, world No.44, will play Kazakhstan’s No.17 seed Elena Rybakina who beat Croatia’s Petra Martic 7-5 6-3.

In their one previous meeting on Madrid clay last year, the Kazakh won 6-4 6-0, but Tomljanovic said: ‘After last year playing Ash, I think I can face anyone’.

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