Ajla Tomljanovic has provided the perfect launchpad for Australia’s challenge at the French Open, delighted to have “toughed it out” to beat Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova in her first round match.
Tomljanovic, the country’s No.2 women’s player, is the lone Australian in action on the opening day at Roland Garros and ensured it would be a 100 per cent winning start with a 6-2 6-4 victory on Sunday which she felt wasn’t pretty but was really satisfying.
It’s the first time since 2015 that the Brisbane player had got past the first round in Paris, a statistic that left her astonished.
“Oh my gosh, has it been that long? I didn’t know it was that long but I felt like I needed a win here,” said Tomljanovic, who was the first of 10 Australians in the singles main draws to see action.
“It feels really nice, especially being the first up on Sunday. I do like starting early but I always get nervous that I’m out before the tournament even starts!” said the 28-year-old.
“So I’m really happy to get through. I don’t think it was the prettiest match but I toughed it out.”
Among the 11am starters at the Paris clay-court slam, world No.76 Tomljanovic raced into a 5-0 lead in a first set which proved a little deceptive.
Kozlova, ranked 83 places lower on the WTA computer, began to show dogged resistance, dragging the stanza into six deuce games before Tomljanovic drew first blood in 54 minutes.
With her serve starting to malfunction, the Croatian-born Australian said she never felt in control.
“I didn’t feel I was dominating, all the games I won were quite tight,” she said, reckoning that getting only 46 per cent of her first serves in throughout the match started preying on her mind.
“I was really not pleased with the way I served. It made everything tougher. From the back, I was solid but it kind off affected me a little bit in the second set because I was always on the defensive.”
A see-saw second set featured five breaks of serve before Tomljanovic finally prevailed after one hour 41 minutes, a delight after suffering four consecutive first-round exits at Roland Garros.
Her victory at the site of her best performance in a grand slam, when she reached the last-16 at Roland Garros seven years ago, will be the perfect tonic for Tomljanovic, who stands behind only world No.1 Ash Barty in the national rankings.
She’ll next face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the No.31 seed, or American Christina McHale in the second round.