January 29, 2023

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU EVER NEEDED

Late withdrawals open AO draw on women’s side

MELBOURNE, Australia – Three late withdrawals from the women’s singles draw mean three opportunities for lucky losers from this week’s qualifying.

But It’s a big shame for the three who won’t be able to take part in the first Grand Slam of 2023.

The first is Ajla Tomljanovic, who is a converted Australian, and the highest-ranked Aussie women in the tournament. In fact, she’s the only female Aussie ranked in the top 150.

Already, she had withdrawn from the United Cup, leaving that squad pretty decimated after Nick Kyrgios also withdrew.

Now she’s out of Melbourne as well.

Tomljanovic is prominently featured in out of the early episodes of the just-released Netflix “tennis reality” series.

And she is features in the latest issue of “In Style” Magazine. Certainly the additional exposure would only be heightened by the attention she’d receive making a run at her “home” Slam. So it has to be devastating.

She was pretty emotional in a press conference discussing it Saturday. It’s a knee problem, that came up in December and has evaded most conservative treatments so far.

“There was no time left. If I’m not ready to compete against the best, coming into an event like this, my goal is to make the second week, not just participate. I’m just not close to being at that capacity. It’s tough because I do feel like it was improving a lot, but just not… Yeah, ran out of time,” she said.

“If I’m taking a 15-second pity party, this shouldn’t have happened now. It’s the time when I’m feeling my best self in every way, coming into a Slam truly feeling like I deserve to be even a contender. I mean, I feel that way. I’m not coming out here and faking that,” she added.

The second pullout is Paula Badosa, who withdrew from her semifinal match Friday in Adelaide and now is out of the big show.

Official reason: abductor injury suffered during her Adelaide quarterfinal.

Badosa is another who is prominently featured in the “Break Point” series, talking openly about the mental-health challenges that come with the job.

She, too is out at a time when the spotlight would have increasingly been on her.

That’s so tennis, isn’t it? A big project is out to get more people outside the tennis bubble engaged – and two of the “stars” have had untimely injuries and have had to pull out.

(Not to diminish what tough luck it is for the players themselves).

If it weren’t for bad luck …

The lucky losers are France’s Léolia Jeanjean, who will play Nadia Podoroska and Laura Pigossi of Brazil, who replaces Badosa and will play American Caty McNally.

Kudermetova commutes Adelaide —> Melbourne

Meanwhile, Veronika Kudermetova, who is the No. 9 seed at the Australian Open and is set to play Maryna Zanevka in the first round, was back on court in Melbourne Saturday.

Kudermetova, who played a lot of tennis in Adelaide the last two weeks, was unable to answer the bell for her semifinal match against countrywoman Daria Kasatkina Friday night over there. Official reason: left hip.

At lunchtime Saturday, she was on court in Melbourne.

It wasn’t as hot as it was in Adelaide. But it was hot.

And there’s no doubt Kudermetova looked a little ragged. At one point, her trainer basically patted her back consolingly when she sat down for a water break.

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