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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Australian Open: London-Based Donna Vekic Plans On Staying Croatian

This is literally hot off the presses so to speak. I previously did a post about Donna earlier last year HERE with more info and video footage.  She just won her first ever Grand Slam event ever, and I'm happy to say, (although probably many the many hearts of her UK tennis fans may be broken)...that she intends to stay Croatian. Good for her. I've gone through similar situations in the past. Trying to change me in various ways, be it what music to listen to, what book to read or movies to watch,  trying to encourage me to get frosted tips hair, to wear white socks with pleated pants, to learn the latest dance craze, trying to get me to like eating dishes and food I really don't care to eat or even look at, and a long list of things over the years.

Croatian Tennis has been competitive and producing good womens tennis players for years, but hasn't lived up to it's potential lately with early retirements and other reasons.  Maybe Donna will be able to continue on with the early success of Iva Majoli from '97? (Vid below)  More info about this women's tennis  up 'n commer at the links below.......

15 year old Ana Konjuh is another rising woman's tennis player from Croatia as well.  Goran Ivanišević has been keeping an eye on Donna and Ana and has stated that he thinks both of them will eventually be top 10 players in the WTA.  Ana recently added the Florida 2012 Orange Bowl to her silverware collection.

(*Update- Donna went on to meet Caroline Wozniacki in the second round but lost 6-1 6-4.  Caroline Wozniacki is a former No 1 ranked player in the world and was the No 1 seeded woman at last years Australian Open.  Losing 6-4  in the 2nd set is very respectable.  There's going to be many future Grand Slam events and still lots of time for Donna Vekic to improve on this her first appearance at an ATP Grand Slam event)





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Australian Open - London-Based Vekic To Stay Croatian



World number 111 Vekic won her first Grand Slam match with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Czech Andrea Hlavackova, ranked 45 places above her, to reach round two.

Coached by Englishman David Felgate and with a training base in London, the temptation for British authorities to ask her if she would like to switch will be high.

But Donna Vekic said there was no chance she would be swapping the Croatian flag for a British one.

"No, I'm very happy playing for Croatia," she said. "Us Croatians have big Croatian hearts so we go out there fighting on the court, fighting for our country."

Vekic reached her first WTA Tour final last year and showed more evidence that she is a rising talent of the women's game with an assured performance.

"It was amazing," Vekic said. "I was quite nervous at the beginning but as the match went on, I started playing my tennis and it was really good.

"I definitely didn't expect it to be that easy, she's a great player and she played better in the second set but I can't really complain with that win."

Her reward for beating Hlavackova is a meeting with former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and Vekic said she cannot wait to test herself.

"Obviously she was number one for quite a while and I just want to go out there and see how it is to play against a player like that," she said. "I just want to see if I can do any damage and see how it goes."

Felgate, who coached former world number four Tim Henman for most of his career, began working with Vekic when she was 11 and when the Croat is not at school in Osijek or playing tournaments, she trains in London, accompanied by her mother.

 Amusing behind the scenes look at a photography session in London where she is now based and trains.

Felgate said Vekic's attitude is second to none and was delighted with her performance on such a big occasion.

"I have belief in her, she likes the big stage," Felgate told Reuters. "She enjoys playing, working hard and listens. Over the last year and a half her rise has been amazing.

"A win is great but the performance, that's what you look at. For someone's first main draw appearance at a Grand Slam, the performance was incredible."

A walk down memory lane with the 1997 French Open Champion, Iva Majoli.

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