When the No. 2 ranked women’s tennis player in the world, Li Na, lost in the third round at the French Open to 21-year-old Kristina Mladenovic on Tuesday, the world saw the occasion as simply a routine upset which occurs at every major event. When No. 1 ranked Serena Williams lost to 20-year-old Garbiñe Muguruza, the world took note. And when No. 3 ranked Agnieszka Radwanska lost to No. 72 ranked, 21-year-old Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday, the world was aghast.
Never before has the tennis world seen such a sight – the top three women in tennis have all exited the stage before the fourth round of the French Open, something which has not happened since tennis became a professional sport in 1968.
After both Williams and Na were defeated early on, many thought that this year’s French Open was Radwanska’s to lose. The 25-year-old Pole did not see things in the same light, however: “It doesn’t mean if the first and second seeds lost, it doesn’t mean the third one is going to win… It’s stupid to say that. It doesn’t matter who is in the draw, if you play good then you’re going to win. I just didn’t play good enough today to win the match.”
“I don’t think it was my day today,” Radwanska concluded.
On the converse, however, it was one hell of a day for Tomljanovic.
— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) May 30, 2014
Coming into Friday’s contest against Radwanska, Tomljanovic had little evidence to support a bid for an upset. She was ranked No. 72 in the world, she had never advanced past the second round of a Grand Slam event, and she had never beaten anyone ranked in the top 30. Friday was a day of firsts, to say the least.
While no one would have picked Tomljanovic to defeat Radwanska, the Pole had much confidence coming into the match: “After seeing the two first seeds go out, you kind of feel you can do this, too.I grew up with these girls who are beating them.”
Tomljanovic used the confidence derived from the losses of both Na and Williams to propel herself to the win. “I went into the stadium for the first time, and she [Radwanska] kind of feels like home there, because she’s been there a lot more than I have… I went out there, and inside I really thought I could win. I think that showed and it is why I won.”
Up next for Tomljanovic is No. 14 Carla Suarez Navarro. While she may be at a rank-disadvantage once again, Tomljanovic’s confidence is not shaken.
“I definitely think the tournament is not over for me,” proclaimed Tomljanovic.
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