Donna Vekic Overcomes Doubts to Reach Her First Grand Slam Semifinal at Wimbledon 2024

Donna Vekic, a seasoned tennis player who has participated in 42 Grand Slam competitions, took on qualifier Lulu Sun, who has only in a major main draw twice before.

In spite of Vekic’s background, Sun seemed more assured and at ease in the opening moments of the game.

Donna Vekic Overcomes Doubts to Reach Her First Grand Slam Semifinal at Wimbledon 2024
Vekic admitted, "It's not easy at times." "I really had to push myself and reach deep inside." Photo Credit: 2024 Robert Prange

Ultimately, though, every factor—including Vekic’s ball’s weight and her general level of fitness—turned out to be significant. Vekic defeated Sun 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and six minutes to advance to her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Sun remarked, “It was a tough match.” “Donna had a great performance. I started to experience some physical difficulties with cramps towards the end of the second and third [sets]. Perhaps my only regret is that I was physically unable to keep up with her, but she played better today and deserved to win.

Vekic, who acknowledged after the match that left-handed opponents like Sun have always had difficulties for her, especially on the return of serve, said, “I knew she was going to come out swinging.” “I was unable to capture the depth in my photographs. My shooting wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. I was, I don’t know, a little more uptight and anxious because of that.
“But in the end, I was able to identify my game.”

Both players’ baseline power shone in the opening set. But time and time again, it was Vekic who was unable to seize the chances she had created. In a ten-deuce game, Vekic held three break points with Sun serving at 1-2. However, Sun held with a 111 MPH ace after 26 points.

After six games, Sun broke Vekic, served at4-5, love-30, escaped once more, and finished the opening set with an unbeatable backhand drop shot.

Sun maintained his excellent play during the initial part of the second set. However, as the set went on, Sun’s fatigue became apparent in the form of more poorly-assisted drop shots and additional groundstroke mistakes. Seemingly unsettled as the first set evaporated, Vekic discovered fresh methods for concentration, serenity, and inventiveness. With a 4-5, 30-40 set point lead, Vekic had a chance to seal the victory with a drop shot.

The third was Vekic in every way, practically. In the third set, she quickly jumped ahead 5-0, conceding just eight points after winning the first twelve points. The next two sets only took sixty-six minutes, compared to an hour for the first set.

An important storyline point in this match also involved compelling backstories. Sun’s rise from outside the top 100 to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year has been the tournament’s Cinderella tale. Sun’s tennis training has been one less well-known aspect.

Before considering to join the University of Texas in Austin, Sun worked closely with tactical guru Craig O’Shannessy in 2019, when she was not among the top 400 players. On the grounds of the All England Club this morning, I spoke with O’Shannessy, who informed me of her exceptional academic standing.

According to O’Shannessy, he either studied or got ready for Sun to play about 50 games. Because O’Shannessy is headquartered in Austin, by chance, he was also able to take Sun’s work to the court during her time in college. Additionally, Sun benefited from the guidance of her team’s coach, Howard Joffe.

O’Shannessy stated, “She was fantastic.” “She has no fear.” O’Shannessy sat courtside for today’s game, sitting close to Sun’s coach, former professional Vladimir Platenik, despite the fact the two no longer collaborate.

Next week, Sun will break into the Top 100 for the first time, coming in at number inside the Top 60. Less than two months ago, as Sun began to prepare for a career in professional tennis, Vekic felt like saying farewell.

Also Read: Daniil Medvedev’s Stunning Victory over Jannik Sinner to Reach Wimbledon 2024 Semifinals

Donna Vekic Overcomes Doubts to Reach Her First Grand Slam Semifinal at Wimbledon 2024
Next week, Sun will break into the Top 100 for the first time, coming in at number inside the Top 60. Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

We had practice set for the Thursday before Roland Garros this year, according to Vekic. “I got to the nightclub. I informed [my coach] Nick that I wanted to withdraw from the French Open. I’m ready to return home. I would like to extend my break.

“I felt like I’d given everything I had for tennis the past couple of months, and I wasn’t getting the results that I kind of expected, so I lost all energy and motivation to keep practicing and pushing.”

Choosing to play in Paris instead, Vekic lost 0-6, 7-5, 7-6 (8) to qualifier Olga Danilovic in a very unpleasant match in the third round. But Vekic continued in the wake of that incident.

She participated in three grass-court competitions before Wimbledon, making it to the final in the penultimate one. When asked to sum up her experience at this time, Vekic replied, “I guess to never give up.” It’s not always simple. Yes, I had to push myself and look extremely deep inside.

For Vekic, a Grand Slam semifinal has long been anticipated. She battled through multiple possibly career-ending injuries when she first started competing at majors as a teenager, and today she’s playing the best tennis of her life. Even though Vekic is only 28 years old, he could likely relate to the query posed by baseball legend Satchel Paige: What would your age be if you had no idea how old you were?

An aged spirit has found youth in the most legendary tennis arena.

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