Ajla Tomljanovic stretches for a return at the Australian Open.
Ajla Tomljanovic stretches for a return at the Australian Open. JULIAN SMITH

New Aussie welcomed with open arms

TENNIS: Australia has adopted Ajla Tomljanovic with open arms judging by the reception Nick Kyrgios's girlfriend received in her opening round match against Lucie Safarova.

A roar went up as her name was announced to the crowd on Court 3 and every point she won was met with loud applause.

There was a small section of devoted Czech fans in the stands but the goodwill shown towards Tomljanovic, who completed her Australian citizenship test just before Christmas and is awaiting the arrival of her Australian passport, outweighed the noise made for her 29th-seeded opponent.

Whistles and cheers rang out as she held a tough, drawn out service game to stay in the set at 2-3. A loud chant of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” started when Tomljanovic broke back to level things up at 4-4 but she lost the first set 7-5. Safarova completed the match by taking the second set 6-3.

Tomljanovic played under the Croatian flag as recently as the Brisbane International and this is the first time she's competed as an Aussie and she recently expressed her desire to represent her new home in the Fed Cup.

Kyrgios paid tribute to Tomljanovic after his win on Monday night, saying having his girlfriend back on tour with him, after she spent time away with injury, has been a big positive for him.


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