Tomljanovic’s Tactics for Serena: Bubble Wrap and Novak

By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, September 1, 2022

The sounds of Serena Williams matches reverberate far beyond Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 40-year-old Williams has rocked even the outer courts in her run to the US Open third round.

More: Serena Stops World No. 1 Kontaveit

On Friday night, Ajla Tomljanovic steps into the cauldron of sound and flurry to face Williams for a spot in the US Open round of 16.

The 46th-ranked Aussie has already felt the effects of Serena-Mania on the US Open grounds.

“I was playing on Court 7 both of my matches so far at the same time as [Serena], and I could hear the crowd,” Tomljanovic told the media in New York. “I’m like Court 7 isn’t that close. I kept thinking, Oh, my God, that’s annoying me and I’m not even playing against her.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I think what I’m going to focus on is to keep the scoreline close because I think she gets dangerous if she gets up. She’s the best when she gets ahead.”

The 23-time Grand Slam champion showed how dangerous she can be when her serve is clicking and she’s riding the wave of energy noisy New York City fans can deliver.

Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who fell to Williams in the 2012 and 2013 US Open finals, said the loud crowd can cause some players to shrink on the game’s largest Grand Slam stage.

“I mean, it’s not easy thing to handle, absolutely,” Azarenka said. “I think, as you said, for somebody who has never been there, can be quite intimidating.”

Tomljanovic has a two-part tactical plan for Williams and vocal fans: compete within her bubble and apply an old Novak Djokovic mental trick to manage the loud crowd.

Tennis Express

“I remember Novak saying one time when they asked him a lot about this, when the crowd was against him, he just pretends it’s for him,” Tomljanovic said. “When they chant, I don’t know, Rafa, Roger, whoever, he hears Novak, Novak. I kind of liked that response. I might use that on Friday night.”

Playing for her first US Open fourth-round appearance, the two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist is planning massive meditation session before facing Serena for the first time.

“I think if I just stay within my little bubble, have my corner that I go to when I need help just for support, block it out as much as I can, I think all my meditation that I do here and there, I’m going to try to just meditate all day tomorrow,” Tomljanovic said.

Photo credit: Getty

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