Ajla Tomljanovic’s Wimbledon journey is OVER after Russia-born Elena Rybakina pulls off stunning comeback to book her place in the semi-finals
- Ajla Tomljanovic’s Wimbledon journey is over after she lost in the quarter finals
- Russia-born Elena Rybakina pulled off a stunning comeback to win at SW19
- Unseeded Tomljanovic had no answer for the 23-year-old’s booming serve
Here is an awkward one for the All England Club. A player born and raised in Russia is just two wins from lifting the Wimbledon women’s singles title.
Of course, there is little organisers could have done to prevent Elena Rybakina from competing here given she now represents Kazakhstan.
But it is still a far-from-ideal scenario for a tournament which went out on a limb to ban players from Russia and Belarus, for fear their success could boost Vladimir Putin’s ‘propaganda machine’. Indeed, Russian state broadcaster RT have wasted no time declaring that Rybakina is one of their own.
Ajla Tomljanovic’s Wimbledon journey is over after she lost her quarter final match in London
The 29-year-old made a fast start and took the first set over Elena Rybakina on Wednesday
However, the 23-year-old pulled off a stunning comeback to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in SW19
The 23-year-old only switched allegiances four years ago after Kazakhstan offered her financial support.
Their ‘rent-a-Russian’ strategy has become quite a thing, with three of the top five ranked Kazakh women — including Rybakina — all hailing from Moscow.
But the controversial policy has now paid off, with Rybakina becoming the first person, male or female, from her adopted country to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, beating Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Wednesday to set up a clash with 2019 champion Simona Halep.
‘It’s a tough question to say what I feel,’ replied Rybakina when asked if she saw herself as Russian or Kazakh.
‘I was born in Russia, but I am really happy that I’m representing Kazakhstan. They were looking for a player and I was looking for help. I’m feeling the support of the people because I’m bringing results which are very good for the sport in Kazakhstan.’
Rybakina has become the first Kazakhstani tennis player to reach a Grand Slam semi final
Rybakina did admit she felt sorry for the Russians who were barred from competing at Wimbledon. But when pressed on her thoughts on the country’s invasion of Ukraine, she said: ‘I just want the war to end as soon as possible.’
Halep’s sprint towards more Wimbledon glory continued apace on Wednesday. The Romanian, back here for the first time since winning in 2019, beat American Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-4 in just over an hour.
Halep has yet to lose a set all Championships, so no wonder she believes this is her best tennis since that title three years ago.
She said: ‘I’m trying to build my confidence back. It’s great to be back in the semi-finals, I’m very emotional. It’s one of my favourite tournaments, so it’s pretty special.’
Thursday’s semi-final should be a fascinating battle — no woman has served more aces than Rybakina (44), but none has broken serve more frequently than Halep, who has won 54 per cent of return games.