“Your behaviour is terrible, terrible,” former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko said to Ajla Tomljanovic as they shook hands at the net. Australia’s Tomljanovic had booked her place in the last-16 against British teenager Emma Raducanu with a three-set win over Ostapenko, but the drama was far from over.
“You’re the one to talk!” Tomljanovic countered, as she went to collect her bags.
“You have zero respect,” Ostapenko fumed. “The worst player on the tour!” She stormed off the court, much to Tomljanovic’s bemusement, after tempers flared throughout their match.
It all came down to a medical timeout. Tomljanovic had recovered from a first set deficit to push the third-round tie to a decider and then proceeded to go two breaks up. At 4-0 down though, Ostapenko called the trainer on court, which Tomljanovic was irate about.
“You know she’s lying, right?” she said to the umpire at the time, as Ostapenko received attention on an abdominal issue. “We all know. She can say whatever she wants. Are you taking any consideration that she looked fine for an hour and 30 and now there’s an ‘acute’ injury.”
It is a tactic many a player has been suspected of deploying, to use a medical timeout to regroup when the chips are down. Novak Djokovic has been accused multiple times, including by Pablo Carreno Busta at the French Open in 2020 when the 20-time major champion recovered from Carreno Busta’s strong start to win the match.
“Every time the match gets complicated, Novak asks for medical assistance,” Carreno Busta said at the time. “Probably the last couple of years, Novak is always doing this when he has problems on the court.”
Tomljanovic’s feelings were clearly similar, and umpire Fiona Edwards’s attempts to calm things down by asking the Australian to take her seat did not work. “I’m not sitting down,” Tomljanovic said.
Ostapenko did not last long after she was briefly able to leave Court 15 for the medical timeout though, as Tomljanovic regained her cool to take the match 4-6 6-4 6-2.
The Australian lapped up the crowd’s applause then, leaving Ostapenko waiting at the net when tempers flew. Ostapenko told Tomljanovic to speak to her physio if she didn’t believe her injury claims, and got a cool response: “I hope you feel better.”
“First of all, she cannot say anything because she knows zero about my injury,” Ostapenko said at her post-match presser, clearly still riled. “She doesn’t know anything. And second of all, in my opinion it was very, very disrespectful from her side, because every single player who is playing tennis or any other sports can get injured. So she cannot say anything unless she knows anything from the physios or from the doctor.’
Ironically, Tomljanovic’s career has been one hampered by injury, a serious shoulder issue keeping her off the tour between 2016 and 2017. A former top 40 player, the 28-year-old is now ranked 75th as she heads to only her second ever fourth round at a major with Raducanu her opponent.