Birmingham | It’s a Tomljanovic v Putintseva final

The Rothesay Classic in Birmingham sees Yulia Putintseva and Ajla Tomljanovic in Sunday’s final playing for the trophy after seeing off Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Anastasia Potapova respectively in the semi-finals at the Edgbaston Priory Club on Saturday.

I definitely did not expect to play a final here. I really do try to take it one match at a time, as much of a cliche as that is, I have never looked ahead. I am not going to do that now either. I will do my best to prepare and give it my all and then when it is over, I will reflect on the week. But you know you are in a good place when the players’ room is empty. Ajla Tomljanovic

Putintseva, the Russian-born Kazakh, eased to a 6-2 6-2 win over Italy’s Cocciaretto, sending her into her first grass court final, although she already has 2 career singles titles to her name.

She comfortably defeated the in-form Italian, while Tomljanovic, ranked 190, ousted the only remaining seed in the tournament, Anastasia Potapova from Russia, 7-6(5) 6-4.

The Australian, who returned from an 8-month hiatus after an injury-ravaged 2023, recorded her biggest win by ranking since November 2022, thanks to her win over the 7th-seeded Potapova.

Both Tomljanovic and Putintseva have enjoyed their best spells on the grass this past week, familiar with the fast-paced nature of the surface.

31-year-old Tomljanovic is a well-versed grass player, with her Grand Slam breakthrough coming at Wimbledon when she reached successive quarter-finals in 2021 and 2022, while the Kazakh No 2 previously went as far as the quarter-finals in Birmingham back in 2019.

Tomljanovic also reached the quarter-finals of a former WTA 250 grass event at the Mallorca Open in 2018, where she eventually bowed out to Anastasija Sevastova, who was then ranked in the Top 20.

The Australian has also finished runner-up at 4 WTA finals in her career, including a WTA 500 final in 2018, before soaring up the rankings to reach a career high of World No 32 in April last year.

This season, her come-back trail after injury was side-lined due to undergoing surgery in February, leading her to spending little time on court until her opener in Paris.

Meanwhile, Putintseva’s decorated career saw her rise to World No 27 in the wake of her run at the WTA 500 St Petersburg in 2017, just falling short of the title in 3 sets to eventual World No 1 Kristina Mladenovic.

The 29-year-old’s first piece of silverware came in 2019, lifting a WTA 250 title in Nürnberg before capturing her second at the Hungarian Grand Prix two years later.

Putintseva’s streak in the Midlands comes after stretching to the quarter-finals at 2 WTA 1000 events this year, including the Miami and Madrid Open.


Yulia Putintseva demolished in-form Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the Last 4 to make her first grass court final in Birmingham

© Darren Staples/AFP via Getty Images

Tomljanovic’s resurgence continues, after surviving a tense first set and then breaking Potapova in the final game of the match to advance, marking her first appearance in a WTA-level final since Pattaya City in February 2019, and she now will bid to win her first career title.

“Playing on Sunday is always special because you really want to win, but at the same time you want to enjoy the moment,” said the 31-year-old. “So I really hope tomorrow will be one to remember.

“I don’t want to really think about that, you know, it’s my, I don’t know what number, final and I haven’t won a title yet, but for sure it will play a bit of a role tomorrow.”

Tomljanovic becomes the 3rd Australian into the Birmingham Classic final, after Jenny Byrne in 1992 and Ash Barty in 2017 and 2019.

“I’m feeling really happy,” Tomljanovic continued. “I really came in with not many expectations this week, but I had full belief that I could play really good tennis here, so just really pleased that I made the final.

“I’ve learned that with grass, you can get humbled really quickly, so I try to not think too much of how well I’m playing, or how badly – I try to just stay level and take every match as a new one.

“But it feels, I guess, good to come into tournaments having won a lot of matches before, for sure.

“Wimbledon’s the one where I definitely want to peak. If I don’t win tomorrow, at least maybe it will be like, I’m gonna do well there.”


Ajla Tomljanovic survived a tense first set before prevailing over Anastasia Potapova in the semi-finals

© Cameron Smith/Getty Images for LTA

Tomljanovic must face the diminutive Kazakh, who leads their head-to-head 4-1, with the Aussie’s only success coming in Adelaide in 2020.

The former World No 32 is playing in Birmingham on a protected ranking, and she has made significant inroads back towards the top 100 this week, rising from 190 into the mid-130s, while a jump to a spot between 110 and 120 is on the cards if she defeats Putintseva.

“I definitely did not expect to play a final here,” Tomljanovic said. “I really do try to take it one match at a time, as much of a cliche as that is, I have never looked ahead. I am not going to do that now either.

“I will do my best to prepare and give it my all and then when it is over, I will reflect on the week. But you know you are in a good place when the players’ room is empty.”




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