NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - Contesting her first completed grass court match of the week, former champion Donna Vekic prevailed against Tatjana Maria in three sets to book her place in the Nature Valley Open final.
“I’m super happy to be back in the final, and finally completed a match on grass as well,” Vekic said afterwards. “That was really fun, to be out there playing again. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
While players regularly struggle with rain and bad weather at tournaments, Nottingham in particular has experienced five consecutive days of rain, preventing play and triggering numerous washouts and delays.
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To keep things on schedule, organizers decided to move matches into an indoor hardcourt facility. In fact, in her previous match - the quarterfinal against Kristina Mladenovic - Vekic the strange situation of having started a match on Centre Court on grass, and midway through had to switch to indoor hardcourts as the rain came down once again.
“It’s definitely been a crazy week for everyone,” Vekic grinned. “But everyone has to deal with the same things, as well. I was just trying to adapt as good as I could, and to stay focused whatever the weather brings me.”
Against Mallorca champion Maria on Saturday, Vekic had to weather the most untimely rain delay. After dropping the opening set in a narrow battle, Vekic cruised in the next two before play stopped with the Croat leading 5-7, 6-0, 5-0.
But she got the job done in the end, cruising to victory a game later to take her spot in the final after an hour and 38 minutes on court. She awaits the winner between No.1 seed Caroline Garcia and Jennifer Brady as she seeks her second Nottingham crown and third WTA title overall.
It was a closely contested battle in the opening set on Saturday, with the first 10 games all going to the server, with no break points on offer, as the players tested out each other’s level - and readjusted to the now pristine grass court conditions.
Maria’s short slices teased Vekic forward and drew the unforced errors off of the Croat’s racquet, keeping her under pressure throughout. The German’s efforts were finally rewarded late in the set, earning the decisive break at 6-5 and then comfortably served it out to love, 7-5.
But Vekic turned the tide in the second set, responding emphatically after dropping the opening set and reeling off the next six games in a row to take the set 6-0. Despite the one-sided scoreline, Vekic had a battle on her hands from Maria, who took her to deuce in five off those six games and held four break points of her own. But she never managed to convert and Vekic ran away with the set.
Vekic continued her dominance in the final set, even as rain halted play for 30 minutes or so with the Croat leading at 5-0. Her strong service performance during the set kept her ahead in the rallies, and Maria couldn’t find a way to pressure the Vekic serve as she sailed ahead to victory.