Croatia’s Donna Vekic on Sunday came from a set down to win the Aegon Open in Nottingham, England, in a pulsating final against Britain’s Johanna Konta to remind the tennis world why she was once considered one of the game’s hottest prospects.
As a teenager, Vekic won her first WTA Tour tournament three years ago, but had not won one since, enduring some tough times before Sunday’s 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 major breakthrough win over the home favorite, world No. 8 Konta.
In a thrilling two-and-a-half-hour contest in which momentum switched dramatically, the hard-hitting Vekic, who is still only 20, was left feeling very emotional after a second tight tussle in 24 hours following her dramatic semi-final win over Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.
Vekic is probably best known now as the girlfriend of Swiss three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, but in 2012, when she reached her first WTA Tour final in Tashkent, the Croat was known only as a remarkable teenage prospect in the women’s game.
“It’s pretty amazing. The last time I played a final I wasn’t allowed to have champagne,” Vekic said. “I’m going to drink a bottle of champagne with my team to celebrate.”
At 16, Vekic was runner-up in another Wimbledon warm-up event in Birmingham, prompting former champion Chris Evert to predict a top-10 career for the Croat, but she has never come remotely near to those heights.
Yet with her 21st birthday coming later this month, Sunday’s victory over Konta felt like the tennis coming-of-age for a player who had finished outside the top 100 in the past two seasons.
“She was able to continuously raise her level throughout that match and I was just not able to stay with her, so full credit to her for playing incredibly well,” said Konta, who had been hot favorite to win her first grass-court title.
Konta had been expected to become the first British woman to win a tournament on home soil for 36 years since Sue Barker triumphed in Brighton.
It all looked plain sailing as she outclassed the nervy world No. 70 in the opening set, but Vekic gradually relaxed and went for broke, finding the lines consistently.
After Vekic had let a 3-1 lead slip in the deciding set, Konta appeared to be surging toward the title as she moved into a 4-3 lead, but the Croatian held her nerve to break for a 6-5 lead and then served out for the victory.
A businessman who received millions of dollars for his work on Tokyo’s successful campaign to host the 2020 Olympic Games has said that he played a key role in securing the support of a former Olympics powerbroker suspected by French prosecutors of taking bribes to help Japan’s bid. Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at the advertising agency Dentsu, was paid US$8.2 million by the committee that spearheaded Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games, financial records showed. Takahashi said the work included lobbying International Olympic Committee (IOC) members such as Lamine Diack, the ex-Olympics powerbroker, and that he gave Diack gifts, including digital
BITING THE BULLET: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi said that top players would make contributions so that the club’s employees can collect 100 percent of their salary Three-quarters of Rugby Australia’s staff were temporarily laid off yesterday amid huge financial losses from the sport’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown, while Lionel Messi confirmed on Monday that Barcelona’s players would take a 70 percent pay cut to ensure that the club’s other employees are paid. The cuts to rugby staff were “the toughest decision in the game’s history,” governing body CEO Raelene Castle said. “Although extremely painful, they are necessary to ensure ... we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild.” The sport has been hit hard by
DECREASED TENSION: The US players’ lawyers said that the soccer federation no longer disputes that the jobs of the women’s and men’s national teams require equal skill Women players suing the US Soccer Federation (USSF) said in in court documents filed on Tuesday that the federation has acknowledged that the jobs of male and female soccer players require equal skill. The language seemed to signal a decrease in tension between the parties after language in documents filed by the federation’s lawyers earlier last month provoked widespread outrage in saying that playing on the men’s national team required a higher level of skill based on speed and strength and carried greater responsibility. The fierce backlash — not only from the women players, but also from sponsors such as Coca-Cola —
If British industry succeeds in saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, it would in part be thanks to the pioneering role played by Formula One (F1) racing teams in the country. Seven of F1’s 10 teams have joined forces with leading aerospace and engineering firms to ramp up production of ventilators, while Mercedes has also worked with medics and academics to produce an alternative breathing aid. Normally obsessed with improving the performance of cars that race at more than 320kph, the teams are stripping back lifesaving devices and using computer simulation to test whether more simplified models can be mass produced. The seven