NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain - She won the title a year ago, and Donna Vekic is back in the semifinals at the Nature Valley Open.

The No.6 seed eased past Germany's Mona Barthel in the last eight in Nottingham on Friday, as the reigning champion booked a place in her first semifinal of the season, 7-5, 6-1.

"I lost to her a couple of weeks ago on clay, but the grass is my best surface," Vekic said on-court after the match. "I was confident today and I knew I had to go for my shots, and it worked out well."

Trailing 5-4 on serve in the first set after seeing a break lead disappear twice, the No.6 seed won the final three games against the World No.117 to pocket the opener, and won nine of the last 10 games in the match overall.

The World No.42 scored her first-ever win against Barthel in three career meetings, and has a rematch of last year's championship on the cards should she want to return to the final.

Vekic will face No.4 seed Johanna Konta in the last four, after the Brit ended the run of Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic, 6-4, 6-2.

“It was a tough match. When you play an opponent you haven’t played before, there are some things that are unpredictable, the No.4 seed said. 

"I definitely felt some of those challenges today and the conditions were also still a bit tricky. It’s not easy playing out there but it’s the same for everyone. Overall I’m happy with the way I kept fighting.”

The Brit stood tall in windy conditions to advance to the semifinals in 77 minutes, and she says she'll relish the challenge of facing the Croatian on grass once again. After falling to Vekic in Nottingham, the two play a classic second round match on Wimbledon's Centre Court last year, won by Konta, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 10-8.

“We had two great battles last year and I know she plays very well on this surface,” Konta said said. “It will be a really tough challenge for me, but it’s a great opportunity for me to keep fighting and raising my level with each match that I play.”