PALERMO, Italy - Wildcard Elisabetta Cocciaretto continued the wave of Italian success at the 31st Palermo Ladies Open as she stunned No.6 seed Donna Vekic to reach her first WTA quarterfinal.

Cocciraretto was coming off of an already impressive result in the first round, which saw her defeat World No.45 Polona Hercog to claim both her first Top 100 win and her first WTA main draw victory. 

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 She continued her breakthrough run against Vekic, dominating the match across both sets to record a 6-2, 6-4 victory after an hour and 35-minute battle.

“I’m so excited, I think I played a very great tennis,” Cocciaretto told press afterwards. “She’s one of the best tennis players of the moment, so it was a pleasure to play against her. 

“I’m so happy about the win, but especially so happy with how I played tonight.”

2020 Palermo highlights: Cocciaretto stuns Vekic to reach maiden quarterfinal

Cocciaretto and Vekic began the match with a pair of marathon service holds that went to multiple deuce points, with the Italian having to fight off two break points and Vekic one of her own to stay on serve, 1-1. The games set the tone for an intriguing first set: despite the seemingly straightforward 6-2 scoreline the set took nearly an hour as both players stayed toe-to-toe. 

It was the Italian who finally broke away late in the set, earning a crucial first break at 4-2 as Vekic’s serve misfired - the Croat struck five double faults in the first set, out of seven in the match. Cocciaretto reeled off the last four games of the set with confidence to win it 6-2, and made it six in a row to open the second with an early break. 

Vekic’s service woes continued in the second set, with a double fault helping Cocciaretto to a 2-0 lead. But she struck back right away to get them back on serve, the pair settling into a high-quality clash as the next six games went to the server. But once again, it was Cocciaretto who pulled away in the end, breaking Vekic in the final game to book her place into her first WTA quarterfinal.

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“It’s really great [to reach my first WTA quarterfinal], especially because it’s in Italy,” Cocciaretto told press afterwards. 

“When I was younger, I was watching this tournament on TV and watching Flavia [Pennetta] and [Sara] Errani, and I dreamed of playing this tournament for so many years. And now I’m here and I’m one of the players playing on TV, like when I was young. It feels very great.”

Elisabetta_Cocciaretto - 2020 Palermo

The 19-year-old was one of four Italians who advanced to the second round, with former champion Sara Errani already booking her spot into the quarterfinals today while Jasmine Paolini bowed out in straight sets. Countrywoman Camila Giorgi will take on Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan on Thursday aiming to make it three Italians in the final eight.

Cocciaretto awaits the winner of tomorrow’s match between No.4 seed Anett Kontaveit and Laura Siegemund for a shot at her first WTA semifinal.

“I will be watching that match, of course,” Cocciaretto said. “This is just the fourth WTA [main draw] tournament that I’ve played, so I don’t know the other girls very well, so definitely I will be watching.”