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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Donna Vekic Wins Her First WTA Title

Donna Vekic with the BMW Malaysian Open trophy (Photo: BMW Malaysian Open)

I interrupted my annual tradition of watching my favorite Easter movie of all time, 'Conan the Barbarian' (what a great soundtrack too, it just oozes suspense, drama, intrigue, adventure and victory)...and decided to watch this tennis match live, and it was quite the nail-biter also, going the distance almost 3 hours,  This is a great result for Donna after having twice come in runner up in her first 2 WTA finals. This should also be a confidence booster and almost make up for those 2 previous finals losses, because her opponent this time was Dominika Cibulková, a world top 10 ranked player and a finalist in this years Australian Open. Her victory today breaks a 12 year drought in Croatian women's tennis, with the previous WTA victory coming from Iva Majoli in 2002. Donna hails from the city of Osijek. Expect to hear the name Donna Vekic more often in future tennis news....

Related: donna-vekic-wins-bangalore-open


Rising star Donna Vekic defeats Dominika Cibulkova for first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur


Donna Vekic killed two birds with one stone as she claimed her first WTA singles title with her first win over a top-ten opponent as she displayed impressive resilience to defeat Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(4) to claim the BMW Malaysian Open title in Kuala Lumpur.

Just 17 years old, Vekic is the first player younger than 18 to win a WTA title since Vania King in 2006. It was already Vekic’s third final after falling short to Irina-Camelia Begu in Tashkent in 2012 and Daniela Hantuchova in Birmingham in 2013 and she was not favoured against Cibulkova, one of the in-form players of the first few months of the season.

But Vekic’s hard, flat groundstrokes and powerful if idiosyncratic forehand matched up well against Cibulkova’s aggressive retrieving and she quickly took a break lead in the first set, leading 3-2 and serving when rain sent both players off court in Kuala Lumpur. Cibulkova broke on their return and the first set stayed on serve until, with Vekic serving at 5-6, Cibulkova opened the game with a return winner. Under pressure, Vekic produced an ace but followed it with a double fault for 15-30 and was broken for the set with an errant forehand.

The Croatian, ranked just inside the top 100 at 95, broke early in the second set but again could not hold on to it, trailing 4-5 and close to a third WTA final defeat before she reeled off seven games in a row to lead 4-0 in the third set with a double break. Cibulkova, who played well all match with her back to the wall, went on the attack as Vekic served for the match at 5-2, saving three match points with strong return and converting her fourth break point after Vekic double faulted.

Going down to the wire for her first WTA win.

Vekic had another chance to serve it out at 5-4 but Cibulkova broke back again with a terrific passing shot and the match went to a third-set tiebreak. Vekic took a 2-0 lead before Cibulkova pegged her back on serve with a long rally and the momentum continued to fluctuate, Vekic taking a 4-2 lead after Cibulkova went for broke on a second-serve return and missed only to give back the advantage after she buried an overhead in the net.

As Cibulkova served at 3-4, Vekic put together perhaps her best sequence of forehands for the match to take the mini-break again and this time Cibulkova could not get it back, putting her own forehand out to fall behind 3-6. One clean backhand winner from the higher-ranked player erased the first match point, but Vekic converted her fifth with a final forehand winner after two hours and 51 minutes.

‘She played really well today,’ Cibulkova said afterwards, praising her young opponent. ‘In the second set I was really close to winning, but she played really well, really strong, and it was just about a few balls out there, really. It was really close. It was such a good match.’

Vekic’s win is projected to take her into the top 70.

‘I'm so happy - I don't know what to say, I'm so, so happy!’ she exclaimed afterwards.

‘It was a very tough match. She played very well throughout the whole match. I was up 5-1 in the third set and she came back out playing insane - so I'm happy I was able to get through in the end.’

An older pic of hers I like for some reason.


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