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Donna Vekic Feels Close To Beating The Top Players

Donna Vekic talked about how close she feels to big victories, her love of Wimbledon, her coaching team and her career so far.

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Donna Vekic fought back superbly in the second set to push Elina Svitolina all the way in their first round encounter in Birmingham, and she was feeling upbeat afterwards.

 

“I have had quite a few close matches against the top players and I feel like I’m there,” said Vekic. “There’s just a little bit missing (that I need) to make the next step to be able to beat them.”

The Croatian also believes that if she knew what she needed to do to beat the top players, she would have done it by now. So she is focusing on small margins instead.

She said, “I think it’s just overall improvement of everything – 5% here, 5% there – and hopefully that will get me there and hopefully that will be soon.”

Vekic looks ahead to Wimbledon

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Anyone who watched Wimbledon last year will remember Vekic’s incredible match against Johanna Konta in the second round. The Croatian thinks that epic clash made her feel more confident on court, and she is keen for more experiences like it.

“I think that was a great match,” the World No.55 said. “It was tough to lose, but I had a great time on centre court and hopefully I can have a few more matches there. That means going far in the tournament so hopefully I can do that as well.”

Vekic is excited about Wimbledon and does not believe how well she progresses there will be determined by the draw.

“I think everyone has ambitions to do well at Wimbledon,” she said. “It’s my favourite tournament, my favourite Grand Slam.”

“I don’t want to look at the draw too much because sometimes you have a good draw and you lose and sometimes you have a bad draw and you win. So I think draws are pretty irrelevant and I just have to focus on my game and play as well as I can.”

Vekic happy with her development

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A settled coaching environment is often vital to a player’s success, and Vekic is pleased with the progress she is making with Torben Beltz in her camp.

“I think Torben is a great coach for me,” the Croatian said. “I can get down on myself and not see things clearly but he’s always very positive, always trying to push me even on the days when I don’t feel like practising. It’s very fun with Torben and he knows a lot about tennis.”

Vekic’s appearance at the 2018 Championships will be her sixth at Wimbledon, something she described as “quite crazy for someone who is only 21”. She is happy about how she has developed since her debut at SW19.

“I’ve developed a lot,” she said. “When I was younger, I was just aggressive with a big serve, but now I defend well too and I can go from defence to attack.”

“I think I move a lot better than a few years ago, which is obviously a good thing. Even when my plan A is not working, there is always plan B. I’ve also improved my drop shot a lot and I like to mix that in.”

Vekic reflects on her career so far

“I was 16 when I made the top 100 and I was playing so well,” Vekic said. “Then I was 18 when I started to go down the rankings. So by the time I was 20 I had experienced the highs and the lows.”

“I had experienced everything so I think that helped me, especially last year when I realised, ‘OK, now I’ve matured, I know what’s good for my tennis, I know what the right things are, and I know what I have to do.’”

All things considered, Vekic is happy with the way things are going, even if she remains impatient for success.

“I want to play well now,” she said. “Torben was talking about all these being good tournaments to get ready for Wimbledon and I said, ‘No, Torben, I want to win this week.’”

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National Bank Open Suffers Tripple Blow As Top 10 Stars Pull Out

Canada’s most prestigious tennis event will be missing some top names in the women’s draw but organisers remain confident the tournament will still be a hit.

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The tournament director of the National Bank Open says he is ‘still counting on exceptional players’ after a series of high-profile names pulled out of the women’s draw in Montreal.

 

Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek have pulled out of the event after competing in the Olympic Games. Osaka, who lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony, lost to Marketa Vonmdrousova in the third round. Meanwhile, Swiatek fell in the second round to Spain’s Paula Badosa.

“I am sorry to be missing out on Montréal this year,” said Osaka who reached the quarter-finals in 2019. “Sending my best to all the fans there, the tournament and the staff. I hope to see you all in Canada next year.”

Former French Open champion Swiatek said her decision to not play in Canada is because she wants to have a break after an ‘intense’ first half of the season. So far this year the world No.8 has won 28 out of 35 matches played, winning two titles in Rome and Adelaide. She has played at the Canadian event only once in her career which was two years ago when she reached the third round as a qualifier before losing to Osaka.

“I am very sorry but this year I will not be able to play in Montréal,” said Swiatek. “The first part of the season was so intense that I need a couple of days off to rest and prepare for the next few months. I’m looking forward to playing in Canada in 2022.”

Sofia Kenin completes the trio of withdrawals from the WTA 1000 event. The American is still recovering from a foot injury that has sidelined her from the Tour since Wimbledon.

“I’m really disappointed to withdraw from the event in Montréal next week,” said Kenin. “While I’m making progress, my foot injury is not where I need it to be to play at the highest level. I feel another week of recovery and rehab is necessary. I want to thank Tennis Canada for all its efforts in holding the event during such challenging times. Best of luck to all the players.”

Commonly known as the Canadian Open, both a men’s and women’s event are held during the same week but in different locations. This year the women will be playing in Montreal and men in Toronto. Each year they alternate between the two cities. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tournament director Eugène Lapierre is confident this year’s women’s draw will still live up to expectations despite the absence of some top names.

“We are still counting on exceptional players in the draw, including the 2019 champion, our very own Bianca Andreescu, as well as World No.3 Aryna Sabalenka and two-time National Bank Open champion Simona Halep. Fans should expect a few surprises because the draw has so much depth. Anything is possible, and that means some exciting tennis is in store!” He said.

Sabalenka will be the top seed in the women’s draw. The main draw will start on Monday.

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo

The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’

 

The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.

Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.

“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”

The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.

She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.

The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.

During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’

“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”

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