Jordan Thompson was outmuscled by the world No.25 in Sydney on Wednesday and the Aussie was understandably frustrated about it.
Jordan Thompson was hoping to spend the rest of the week competing at the Sydney Tennis Classic, but the Aussie world No.73 could well spend it shopping for tennis racquets instead, having obliterating his in frustration against Reilly Opelka on Wednesday.
The 211cm-tall Opelka stood over Thompson in their second round match, taking control from the outset and going on to win 6-3, 6-2.
Just minutes into the match, Thompson was visibly frazzled by the American world No.25’s powerful serve – well in excess of 200km/h – and his ability to move swiftly around the court despite his imposing size.
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Thompson dominated his first round match against Opelka’s countryman Marcos Giron but struggled to find his rhythm as the first set progressed on Wednesday.
A wayward return handed Opelka the break early in the second set, and the Aussie couldn’t mask his frustration any longer.
He tossed his racquet away but went back for it, leaving it a crumpled mess on the court after slamming it aground twice more.
Racquet debris lay scattered at the edges of the court.
“You can understand the frustration. His opponent has hardly put a foot wrong,” retired doubles specialist Robbie Koenig said in commentary for Stan Sport.
“It’s been such intelligent tennis from Opelka.”
“I’m surprised it isn’t a code violation. That thing (the racquet) has seen better days,” commentator Colin Fleming said.
Commentators said they understood Thompson’s pain.
“I’m not advocating smashing racquets by any means but sometimes when you’re as frustrated as these guys are in the heat of battle, you just need to get that release,” Koenig said.
“Get it out of your system, otherwise it lingers.
“Hopefully getting his frustrations out on the racquet would’ve done that for Jordan.”
After his episode with the racquet, Thompson managed to take two games away from Opelka, but the American was in a mood and could not be stopped despite Thompson’s best efforts.
Opelka will meet fellow American Brandon Nakashima in the quarter-finals.
“I played well,” Opelka said after defeating Thompson.
“I’ve been working a lot on my ground game and I think a lot of it showed out here today.”
Aussie star Ajla Tomljanovic dismissed concerns over two heavily taped thighs a week out from the Australian Open following an opening round win at the Sydney Classic.
Playing in her 150th main draw, the 28-year-old said she was having a “tough time” with her adductors and hips but they didn’t hamper her in the 6-2, 6-3 win over Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
Coming off a career-best 2021, Tomljanovic is targeting a move into the world top 30 as an early-season goal in 2022 but isn’t putting any immediate expectations on herself going into the opening grand slam of the season next week.
“As a team, we don’t really set goals where, you know, OK, we’ve got to hit this number or this round in a slam. But the objective always is to improve. For me personally I do set my goals of my own,” she said after her win, which required a comeback from 3-1 down in the second set.
“It would be to get into the top 30, mostly just because I believe that I can do it. But it will take me to do something that I haven’t done in ever, which is play better consistently, win more matches at the bigger stages every week,”
“And it’s definitely going to be a task for me just because it hasn’t been done before, but it definitely isn’t something that I feel like is too far out of reach.”
Tomljanovic said the extreme tape on both her thighs was more precautionary than an indication of an issue which could trouble her when she gets to Melbourne Park.
“I just have a tough time sometimes with my adductors and hips, and just trusting it is not coming easy to me, so I just felt like tape was the right way to go,” she said.
“It was so humid out there, so I spoke to the physios before the match that, you know, if I could get a retape without getting the medical, which we did, and it was a little bit too tight in the second. But, you know, the tape does get a little bit loose.
“Once I finished, I just really wanted to get it off just, yeah, to let my legs breathe a little bit.”
At number 45 in the world, Tomljanovic is the second-highest ranked Australian female behind world No.1 Ash Barty.
But it’s wins, particularly at bigger tournaments, not ranking points that are driving her.
“Being better than my career high isn’t really going to make me, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, yes’. It’s not going to feel like that because, in a way, I felt like I deserved it with the year I had last year,” she said.
“So not reaching it doesn’t get me down or anything. But probably getting into that top 30 would be something is where I’d be, like, OK, this is what makes the difference for me.”
Tomljanovic will play Spain’s Paula Badosa in the second round in Sydney.
But while Tomljanovic progressed, fellow Aussie Chris O’Connell was on the end of a close defeat, losing a third-set tie-break to Argentina’s Sebastian Baez.