NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - Former champion Donna Vekic had little problem storming into the quarterfinals at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham, dropping just three games against lucky loser Chloe Paquet on Thursday.
“I think that was one of the best matches maybe that I’ve ever played,” Vekic said afterwards. “It was very straightforward, pretty clean, and everything was working out for me.
“I was serving really well, I was going for my shots and also making her move. Everything that I wanted to do, I did it. Hopefully I can continue that way.”
Due to the rainy conditions this week in Nottingham, players found themselves waiting out rain delays and washouts before organizers made the decision to move matches to an indoor hardcourt facility. Originally scheduled on Centre Court, Vekic and Paquet had to make the switch indoors after even more rain came down today.
“Indoors definitely suits my game, but I think grass also suits my game, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there. Hopefully!” Vekic grinned. “I actually hit on the hardcourts in Monaco last week, so I was kind of used to it.”
But 2017 champion Vekic didn’t look troubled by the change of surface and venue. Ranked outside of the WTA’s Top 50 less than a year ago, Vekic is now closing in on a Top 20 debut. She has experienced a resurgence this season, leading her to reach a final at St. Petersburg, semifinals at Brisbane and Acapulco, and capping it off with a fourth-round run at Roland Garros.
Vekic carried all of that momentum into her rain-affected clash with French lucky loser Chloe Paquet, currently ranked World No.168. She needed just 54 minutes to score a 6-1, 6-2 victory, firing four aces and winning 82% of first serve points along the way.
The Croatian player also didn’t face a single break point during the match as her booming serve and flat strokes dictated play from the start. Vekic got off to a strong start, reeling off back-to-back breaks of serve to create a 4-0 lead. Paquet held serve to avoid the dreaded ‘bagel set’, but Vekic was right back on the attack a game later, taking the set 6-1.
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Paquet raised her level in the second set, meeting Vekic blow for blow as she struggled to find a way to turn the match around. The Croatian created another early break lead, breaking at 3-1 and consolidating to 4-1. But despite the French player’s best efforts, Paquet couldn’t find a way to pressure the Vekic serve, and she went down a second and final break to seal the victory, 6-1, 6-2 for Vekic.
Back into the Nottingham quarterfinals for the third year in a row, Vekic will await the winner between No.8 seed Kristina Mladenovic or Australia’s Astra Sharma.