Donna Vekic was elated and understandably exhausted after I spoke to her following her marathon two hours and 48 minutes win over Lucie Safarova 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4) at the Aegon Open in Nottingham.
When asked for her initial thoughts the 20-year-old simply said: “I feel tired, but I feel very happy though!”
In the heat of battle in the final set there was a controversial moment in the sixth game where the Croat had the chance to break her opponent’s serve. Safarova’s forehand appeared to go long and the ball was originally called out, but then corrected and overruled by the umpire. Vekic was distraught with the decision but with no hawk-eye there was nothing that she could do as Safarova held to level at three games all.
Upon reflection Vekic was still very unhappy with the umpire. She said: “When something like that happens it’s very frustrating, especially as it wasn’t even closely in. This umpire made a lot of mistakes, it wasn’t her first mistake so this I mean can change a whole match. I had to just get on with it and try to play the next point and next games.”
Putting that disappointment behind her, Vekic had to prepare herself for the testing mental challenge of a final set tiebreak to decide whether she would play in Sunday’s final.
“I lost one third set tiebreak earlier on this year, which was my toughest loss of the season”, she said. “I was like ‘come on you have this one’ and tried to be positive, to focus on my serve, take my time and it worked.”
Having not dropped a set prior to this match in Nottingham the 20-year-old did not see this match as an unnecessary physically taxing contest, but more of a much needed test on the grass. “Matches like this give you a huge amount of confidence. Winning a third set tiebreak is amazing and this feeling after the match is the reason why we all play. It’s a different kind of happiness.”
Vekic will face top seed and home favourite Johanna Konta in Sunday’s final after she defeated Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets 6-2, 7-5. The Croat is looking forward to the contest and is ready for the challenge.
She said: “It’s going to be a tough match, she is playing well and confident, but I’m also playing well and hoping that I can play like this tomorrow so that it will be a good match for the crowd.”