Australian Ajla Tomljanovic’s third round Wimbledon match ended in controversy after she accused her opponent of cheating.
An accusation of cheating rocked the third round match at Wimbledon between Australian Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko.
Tomljanovic came from a set down to win 4-6 6-4 6-2, but the match was marred by a spiteful clash between the two tennis stars.
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Tomljanovic was leading the third set 4-0, had won seven games in a row and was on track to comfortably close out the match, before Ostapenko called for a medical time-out.
The 28-year-old was furious that her opponent had called for the trainer but did not appear to be hampered by injury whatsoever.
Tennis players have been criticised over the years for taking medical time-outs strategically in order to compose themselves and stop an opponent’s momentum.
“I cannot continue. I have pain,” Ostapenko old the umpire.
“You know she’s lying, right? We all know,” Tomljanovic argued to the umpire. “Are you taking into any consideration that she looked fine?”
Ostapenko was allowed to take the medical time-out and returned just three minutes later and managed to break Tomljanovic’s serve.
But the Australian closed out the match and made it very clear she was unimpressed with Ostapenko’s decision to take a time-out.
Tomljanovic celebrated the victory before approaching the net and hesitated before reluctantly shaking Ostapenko’s hand as a fiery exchange ensued.
Ostapenko: If you think I am faking, you can talk to the physio.
Tomljanovic: I hope you feel better.
Ostapenko: Your behaviour is terrible. You have zero respect
Tomljanovic: Honestly, you’re the one to talk.
Ostapenko: What? So bad, so bad.
Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, then appeared to call Tomljanovic the “worst player on tour”.
The confrontation overshadowed what was a sensational win for Tomljanovic that sees her progress to the fourth round at Wimbledon — her best ever result at a grand slam.
‘It’s disgraceful behaviour’: Spat continues in pressers
Speaking at her post-match press conference, Tomljanovic stood her ground.
“She can say she was injured. I don’t think she was,” said Tomljanovic. “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.
“Then to top it all off, for her to call me disrespectful at the end of the match is laughable.
“I think it’s disgraceful behaviour from someone that is a slam champion, because kids look at her and they see that? I’m sorry, if she was injured, she could have gone about it in a way better way.”
The incident brought back unhappy memories for Tomljanovic. In the 2019 WTA final at Hua Hin in Thailand, she was 5-2 up in the decider when Ukraine opponent Dayana Yastremska called a medical time out for a leg injury.
The delay caused the Australian to lose momentum and eventually the match. Tomljanovic said she was getting increasingly frustrated with medical time-outs being used as a ploy.
“The fact that she did it at 4-0 today when I was about to serve, that’s disrespectful,” she said. “I’m just honestly tired of it. I’m tired of it happening and seeing it happen. We can do better than that.”
Ostapenko, the world No. 34 and a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2018, insisted her injury was genuine and that the pain had become increasingly worse as the match wore on.
“I think it was very disrespectful what she did. I mean, how can you say ‘liar’ or something if you know zero about my injury,” said the Latvian.
“You cannot say that. In front of everybody, call me liar? I don’t think it’s respectful from her side.
“So that’s what I said, ‘You are a very bad player because of this behaviour’. That’s it. You are winning, but it does not mean you can do everything you want.”
Ostapenko, who was the champion in Eastbourne on the eve of Wimbledon, insisted that had she been fully fit, she would have comfortably made the last 16.
“I think my level today was not good after the first set, because if I played at least 50 per cent I would have beaten her,” she said.