Aussie star Tomljanovic wins first match in a year, advances at US Open

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Ajla Tomljanovic finally has something to celebrate in her wretched, injury-marred season after a gutsy US Open victory in her first competitive match this year.

The triple grand slam quarter-finalist, who ended the legendary Serena Williams’ career at this event last year, rallied from a set down and 0-2 in the final set to overcome Hungary’s Panna Udvardy 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in six minutes short of two hours.

Ajla Tomljanovic had been sidelined for a year before returning to tennis with an impressive win over Panna Udvardy of Hungary at the US Open.Credit: Getty

Tomljanovic was in a state of disbelief immediately after securing the victory, which followed her withdrawal on the eve of all three previous slams this season due to a mystery knee injury that she struggled to shake for months.

She joined fellow Australians Daria Saville – herself not long back from an ACL rupture – and Rinky Hijikata, a wildcard, in advancing to the second round.

Saville’s 6-0, 6-2 demolition of Wimbledon junior champion Clervie Ngounoue, of the US, booked her the toughest task in women’s tennis against world No.1 Iga Swiatek.

It is not much better for Tomljanovic, who will lock horns with Kazakh star Elena Rybakina. The No.4 seed came from a set down to beat Tomljanovic in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals on her way to winning the title.

Australian Daria Saville serves to Clervie Ngounoue, of the US, in their first round women’s singles match at the US Open.Credit: Getty

The former world No.33, whose ranking tumbled as low as 130 in her absence, tried to avoid surgery before undergoing what she described as a minor procedure in January, once more “conservative methods” failed to fix the problem.

Tomljanovic warned she would be out for several months, but not even she expected to be sidelined for so long.

She remained on the entry list until only a handful of days before the French Open and Wimbledon, only to pull out when her knee failed to show sufficient improvement.

There were no grand comeback announcements in the weeks leading up to the New York grand slam, but this time she made it onto the court as she attempts to salvage something from the season.

Hijikata may make his top-100 debut thanks to his four-hour, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 defeat of Russia’s Pavel Kotov, but Storm Hunter and Kim Birrell lost their first-round matches, while qualifier Olivia Gadecki and Alexei Popyrin are on court.

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