Last year, Ajla Tomljanovic made a breakthrough run to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon. This year, she backed it up with a return to the last eight.
After 2 hours and 34 minutes of dizzying all-court rallies, Australian No.1 Tomljanovic overcame French No.1 Alizé Cornet 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to book a spot in the quarterfinals at SW19 once again.
"Today was crazy," Tomljanovic said afterward. "[Cornet's] level was really high from the get-go. I think the second point of the first game was so long that I kind of thought to myself, 'Oh, my God, I don't know if I'm going to physically be able to keep up with her.' But I found a way.
"It felt like a coin toss a little bit. I mean, she fights till the end. She wasn't giving me much. That's why in the end I was a little bit in disbelief that I actually came through."
Ajla takes the rematch: Tomljanovic had a topsy-turvy win over Cornet during her Wimbledon run last year as well, ousting the Frenchwoman in three sets in the second round. History repeated on No.2 Court on Monday, and Tomljanovic now has a 3-2 lead in their head-to-head.
Very little separated the pair once again, with 44th-ranked Tomljanovic doing slightly better on break points to edge 37th-ranked Cornet in the final set. Tomljanovic was 8-for-14 on break points overall, while Cornet was a less successful 7-for-16.
Tomljanovic is the first Australian woman to reach back-to-back Wimbledon quarterfinals since Jelena Dokic reached the quarterfinals in 1999 and the semifinals in 2000.
Cornet's run ends: Cornet, playing her 62nd consecutive Grand Slam main draw (tying the Open Era record set by Ai Sugiyama), is having an amazing Grand Slam season. She finally reached her first major quarterfinal at the Australian Open this January, toppling Simona Halep to achieve that milestone.
Then, just two days ago, Cornet stunningly halted the incredible 37-match winning streak by World No.1 Iga Swiatek in the third round. However, another stirring Grand Slam run by former World No.11 Cornet came to a close, with seven double faults hindering her cause on Monday.
Match moments: Cornet saw a 4-1 advantage in the first set dwindle before she carved her way to a break for the one-set lead. However, Tomljanovic, who had twice as many unforced errors as winners in the first set, kept those statistics equal in the second set as she leveled the match.
Two straight double faults by Cornet handed Tomljanovic a break for 2-1 in the third set, and the Aussie grabbed the momentum from there, slamming strong returns to break again for a commanding 4-1 lead.
Tomljanovic let one of her two breaks slip away, but she finished off the match with a putaway, expertly avoiding touching the net before match point ended.
Next up: Last year, Tomljanovic was ousted in the quarterfinals by her now-retired compatriot Ashleigh Barty, who was then the Australian No.1 as well as the World No.1. Barty went on to win the 2021 Wimbledon title.
This time around, Tomljanovic has another tricky opponent waiting for her in the quarterfinals: powerful Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No.17 seed. Rybakina, this season's ace leader on tour, had a straight-sets fourth-round win over Petra Martic earlier on Monday.
In their lone previous meeting, Rybakina rolled past Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-0 in the first round on the clay of Madrid last year.
"She's got a big game," Tomljanovic said about Rybakina. "I know that if she's on, it's going to be tough. But you just got to weather the storm. If I can weather the storm but try to put my game as the priority and be aggressive first, and move her, I think that's going to be key."