Ajla Tomljanovic said it felt "surreal" to beat Serena Williams and noted that she felt sorry for being the one that put an end to the American's astonishing career. On Friday night in New York, Tomljanovic defeated Williams 7-5 6-7 (4) 6-1 to progress into the US Open round-of-16.
It was the first meeting between Tomljanovic and Williams. "Well, I'm feeling really sorry just because I love Serena Williams just as much as you guys do. And what she's done for me, for the sport of tennis, is incredible.
I never thought that I'd have a chance to play her in her last match," Tomljanovic said.
Tomljanovic after beating Williams: She is the greatest of all time
"This is a surreal moment for me. I just thought she would beat me.
The pressure wasn't on me. She's Serena. Even to the last point, I knew she's in a really good position to win, even when she's down 5-1. I didn't know how many match points I needed to finish it off, but that's just who she is.
She's the greatest of all time, period," Tomljanovic explained. "The thing is, I lost that second set not by doing much wrong. She just played great. I couldn't dwell too long. I know if I'm not focused for two seconds she will run off with that third set." Tomljanovic recovered from a 4-0 deficit in the second set to force a tie-break, which she eventually lost and the match went into a decider.
After winning the second set, Williams broke Tomljanovic in the very first game of the third set. Tomljanovic responded in impressive style, claiming three consecutive breaks to take a 5-1 lead. In the seventh game, Williams saved five match points before Tomljanovic finally realized her sixth match point to complete a three-set win. Tomljanovic plays Liudmila Samsonova next.