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Donna Vekic rallies to reach Wimbledon semifinals

Croatia’s Donna Vekic rallied to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 victory at Wimbledon over New Zealand’s Lulu Sun on Tuesday in London.

The unseeded Vekic, 28, advanced in 2 hours and 8 minutes and improved to 10-3 this year on grass, including a final at Bad Homburg two weeks ago.

This is Vekic’s 43rd appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. In the Open Era (since 1968), only four women appeared in more majors before making their maiden semifinal: Barbora Strycova (53), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (52), Elena Likhovtseva (46) and Roberta Vinci (44).

“Reaching my best result ever at a Slam, I’m really proud of myself, of the work that I’ve done, of the work that my team has done,” Vekic said.

Vekic finished with 11 aces, 32 winners and 26 unforced errors and saved four of six break points. In the deciding set, she won all nine points when she landed her first serve and went 5-for-5 at the net.

“Before the match, I was relaxed,” Vekic said. “The only moment where I was a bit more stressed out during the match was when I saw how well (Sun is) playing. It’s not that I didn’t expect her to play well. I knew she was going to come out swinging.

“I could not find the depth in my shots. I wasn’t executing my shots as well as I wanted to. That’s why I was, I don’t know, a little bit more stressed and tense. But at the end I managed to find my game.”

The 23-year-old Sun, ranked No. 123 in the world, struck 10 aces and finished with 27 winners and 25 unforced errors while saving four of eight break points.

Vekic’s semifinal opponent will be No. 7 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy, who cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 quarterfinal win over No. 19 Emma Navarro in 58 minutes on Tuesday.

Paolini leads Vekic 2-1 head-to-head but this will be their first meeting on grass.

Paolini, 28, became the first Italian woman to reach the final four at the All England Club. After falling behind 2-1 with an early break, Paolini won 11 of the next 12 games against Navarro.

“It’s unbelievable, just unbelievable,” Paolini said in her on-court interview. “It’s amazing to get the win on this court, on this special court. I’m so happy to be in the semifinals, I don’t know what to say at the moment. Grazie.”

Paolini finished with a 19-6 advantage in winners, with both players logging a dozen unforced errors. She broke Navarro’s serve five times and saved all three break points she faced in the second set.

–Field Level Media

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