Australian Open: Donna Vekic Talks About Pam Shriver Influence After Reaching Quarter-Finals - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open: Donna Vekic Talks About Pam Shriver Influence After Reaching Quarter-Finals

Donna Vekic is into her first quarter-final at the Australian Open with help from a former champion.

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Donna Vekic (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Donna Vekic has spoken about the positive influence that Pam Shriver has had on her game after reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time.

The Croatian is into the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time in her career after a 6-2 1-6 6-3 win over 17 year-old Linda Fruhvirtova.

Vekic hit 42 winners as she edged into the last eight where she will play fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka.

After the match Vekic spoke about her new partnership with 22-time Grand Slam doubles champion Pam Shriver.

The duo first met in San Diego, where Vekic reached the final as a qualifier and the Croatian said they never looked back after that, “Yeah, it started in San Diego very randomly. We spent a lot of time there together. I went to L.A. after, so we also saw each other there,” Vekic explained in her press conference.

“I was like, Hey, Pam, we get along so well, do you want to join Team DV for next year? She said yes, which is, one, a huge honor for me to have such a champion wanting to work with me. Two, I really believe that she can bring a lot to my game.

“Everyone says she’s only bringing volleys for me, and I’m going to improve my volleys, that’s for sure. Also, a lot about serve and the
rest of the game. That’s for sure.”

The Croatian also spoke about Shriver’s approach which is a very direct one and spoke about how her form is now coming together, “I always like that from any coaches, for them to be direct,” Vekic stated.

“Even if it’s sometimes what you don’t want to hear, kind of at the end of the day you do want to hear these things if you want to improve. She’s, like you said, always been very direct. Something I really appreciate. But other than that, I think we have a great atmosphere in the team.

“With Nick as well, they make such a good combination. Nick and I did really hard work in the off-season in Monaco, and we were talking with Pam on the phone from L.A. We all met here in Melbourne.

“It’s also great to see that I have success and results from our work so early. It’s not just from the work now, I’ve been working hard the last couple of months. It’s finally all coming together.”

Vekic will hope that this form continues as she looks to recover her ranking after a major knee surgery in 2021.

The former Grand Slam quarter-finalist admitted that she had doubts about whether she could return to her previous form as she gave an insight into her mental state during her injury, “I said twice I’m going to quit tennis,” Vekic said.

“But after saying that, one, I won Courmayeur, then I played really well in San Diego. Of course, you have doubts especially because I wasn’t really fit, I was so far from moving the way I was before. I didn’t trust my knee. I didn’t trust my abilities.

“Then my fitness was improving, but it wasn’t coming together on the match court. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, as well. One thing, to play well in matches, having the expectations of my level what was before surgery.

“San Diego was really important week for me, beating all those top players, ranking-wise. It was a huge confidence boost. Gave me a lot of belief.”

Vekic, who is now 64 in the world, is looking to make her first Grand Slam semi-final at 26 years of age and will believe she can go all the way.

Next for the Croatian is in-form fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka who defeated Belinda Bencic in straight sets.

However Vekic will fancy her chances as she currently holds a 5-1 head-to-head record over the Belarusian heading into Wednesday’s clash.

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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