Ajla Tomljanovic: “We want to win for our country”
Team spirit is strong as Australia prepares for a Billie Jean King Cup semifinal showdown against Switzerland.
A determined Ajla Tomljanovic hopes to continue Australia’s winning run at the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague.
The 28-year-old is spearheading the Australian team for the first time and played a crucial role in a 2-1 victory against Belarus, overcoming in-form Aliaksandra Sasnovich in three sets.
Yet there is no time for celebration, with Tomljanovic’s focus firmly on Australia’s upcoming semifinal showdown against Switzerland.
“We’re all happy to be in the semifinals,” said the world No.43. “But we don’t feel like the job is done.”
With world No.17 and Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic headlining a strong Switzerland team, Tomljanovic is expecting a tough challenge in the semifinals. However, the Australian is not fazed by the pressure.
“I think it’s normal to always feel a little bit of pressure, because we want to win for our country and do well,” she said.
She also believes Australia’s strength lies in its “great team spirit”.
“I think that’s why we have some of our best runs in Billie Jean King Cup, because we feed off each other and we’re so positive,” Tomljanovic noted.
“Everyone believes that we can do it. Even the girls that are not necessarily playing on the day, they always feel included and I think that is what this whole event is about.”
Storm Sanders, who has been a standout performer this week, agrees.
“We have a really good energy, good vibe,” said Sanders of the Australian team. “Everyone is super supportive and so excited to be here. We all have a lot of confidence in each other. We’re all playing really well, so we back each other no matter who steps onto the court.
“It’s not just one person who wins this competition, it’s the team.”
The 27-year-old Sanders has won two singles matches this week. This includes a career-first top-20 victory against Belgium’s Elise Mertens.
“I feel like I embrace pressure,” said Sanders. “I love this environment and being part of Team Australia.”
World No.131 Sanders is encouraging her team-mates to play without fear in the semifinals.
“That’s the biggest thing I’ve been doing, just backing my game and believing in myself, having no fear and being courageous with my shots,” she said. “If it pays off, then great. But if it doesn’t pay off, I’ve given it everything and that’s all you can ask.”
Australia’s semifinal showdown with Switzerland is played in Prague tomorrow (beginning Saturday 3am AEDT). It is broadcast live in Australia on 9Gem.