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Wimbledon 2024: Donna Vekic Ends Lulu Sun’s Dream Run to Reach First Grand Slam Semi-Final

Wimbledon 2024: Donna Vekic Ends Lulu Sun's Dream Run to Reach First Grand Slam Semi-Final

Qualifier Lulu Sun’s impressive Wimbledon journey ended in the quarter-finals with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 loss to experienced Croatian player Donna Vekic. This victory marks Vekic’s first Grand Slam semi-final, making her only the second Croatian woman to achieve this feat at Wimbledon, matching Mirjana Lucic’s 1999 accomplishment.

“It was a really tough match; she played unbelievably well,” said an emotional Vekic. “I felt like I was dying out there in the first two sets but just kept going, hoping to have a chance, and it came in the end.”

Sun, 23, who played college tennis at the University of Texas, was making her debut at the grasscourt tournament. She became the first player from New Zealand to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the Open era after defeating Britain’s Emma Raducanu in the previous round.

Despite the soggy conditions on Tuesday, Sun started strong, saving three break points in a marathon 10-deuce fourth game and eventually taking the first set 7-5. However, Vekic rallied in the second set, securing a crucial break in the eighth game and leveling the match with a perfectly executed drop shot.

In the final set, Sun’s fatigue from her eighth match of the fortnight showed as Vekic quickly surged to a 5-0 lead. Although Sun managed to get on the board, Vekic ultimately clinched the victory in two hours and eight minutes.

Reflecting on her Wimbledon experience, Sun said, “I’ve had really great matches here. The energy from New Zealand fans and other fans is such a surreal moment for me that I definitely won’t forget.”

Vekic, who has faced significant challenges, including knee surgery and other injuries, expressed gratitude towards her team and the determination that helped her reach this milestone. She now faces Italian Jasmine Paolini in the semi-finals.

Sun’s remarkable performance has captivated her home nation, with matches broadcast live after midnight in New Zealand. Her ranking is expected to rise from No. 123 to just outside the world’s top 50, bringing renewed attention to tennis in her country.

Vekic’s win not only marks a personal triumph but also a historic moment for Croatian tennis. As she prepares for the semi-finals, her journey serves as a testament to perseverance and resilience.

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