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Ajla Tomljanovic pulls out of Australian Open with injury, as Ash Barty launches mentor role

Ajla Tomljanovic pulls out of Australian Open with injury, as Ash Barty launches mentor role

  • Australian No 1 withdraws from home Open with knee injury
  • Tomljanovic was quarter-finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2022

Australian women’s No 1 Ajla Tomljanovic has been forced out of the Australian Open with a lingering knee injury.

Tomljanovic previously pulled out of the United Cup and Adelaide International and confirmed on Saturday she had been unable to recover in time to contest her home grand slam.

The 29-year-old’s withdrawal is a hammer blow to Australia’s hopes of a local women’s player going deep into the tournament following 2022 champion Ash Barty’s retirement.

Tomljanovic posted the words “I’m sorry” on Twitter with a longer statement confirming her withdrawal attached to the post.

“It absolutely pains me to have to write this message but unfortunately I won’t be able to compete at this years Australian Open,” she said in the statement.

“I’ve done absolutely everything in my power to get healthy but just ran out of time to heal and be 100 per cent ready to compete at a high level.

“It’s been a very tough decision to make but I have to listen to my body.

“It’s no secret that this is my favourite place to play so it hurts to miss out on a great opportunity to play in front of my home crowd and to be surrounded by the incredible love and atmosphere.”

In 2022 Tomljanovic became the first Australian woman since former world No 1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1979 to reach the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open, where she famously ended Serena Williams’ career, in a calendar year.

Tomljanovic, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, was in line for a precious first-time grand slam seeding at her home major until the injury ruined her lead-in and resulted in her ranking dropping to No 35.

Her unseeded status had delivered her a difficult draw.

The Australian was due to play Argentina’s world No 192 Nadia Podoroska first-up but then faced one of either Sofia Kenin or Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Meanwhile, 2022 Australian Open champion and former world No 1 and Ash Barty has announced plans to foster the next wave of local talent through a new partnership with Tennis Australia.

Barty, who retired in March last year after claiming her drought-breaking Australian Open title, will mentor players and coaches from Tennis Australia’s development pathway.

The three-time grand slam champion’s former coaches Craig Tyzzer and Jason Stoltenberg are also involved in the program, announced by TA on Friday.

“Supporting the next generation of tennis talent is something I am very passionate about,” Barty said. “I’m so excited to be able to work with two people who have been instrumental in my career, Tyzz and Stolts, to give back to the sport I love.

“This is only the beginning of our partnership and we hope that over time we can make a positive difference to young Australian players.”

Barty, Tyzzer and Stoltenberg will pass on their knowledge and experience to players and coaches of all ages in the development pathway at events and training opportunities over the next 12 months.

A TA statement said Barty’s values and philosophies will feature prominently in the governing body’s performance environment.

“We are extremely excited to be able to work with Ash, Craig and Jason to utilise the depth and experience of one of our greatest tennis champions in our performance pathway,” TA chief strategy and performance officer Timothy Jolley said.

“So many of our young players have been inspired by what Ash was able to achieve on court, and her work ethic, professionalism and way she conducted herself on court is something we hope we can instil within our performance environment.”

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