Donna Vekic of Croatia pulled off a come-from-behind victory to reach the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career, halting the Cinderella run of qualifier Lulu Sun of New Zealand 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

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In her third Grand Slam quarterfinal and first at Wimbledon, World No.37 Vekic had to battle hard to overcome 123rd-ranked Sun, who was aiming to become only the second qualifier to reach the ladies' singles semifinals at Wimbledon.

The 28-year-old Vekic eventually edged past 23-year-old Sun after 2 hours and 8 minutes of play on No.1 Court, breaking new personal ground at a Grand Slam event by making the final four.

"Those couple of years [2021 and 2022] were very tough," said Vekic, who has struggled with injuries this decade and had knee surgery in 2021. "I didn't think I was ever going to come back to the level that I even had last year.

"So this now, reaching my best result ever at a Slam, I'm really proud of myself, of the work that I've done, of the work that my team has done."

Deepest major run: Vekic hit this major semifinal milestone in the 43rd Grand Slam main-draw showing of her 12-year professional career.

In the Open Era (since 1968), only Barbora Strycova (53), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (52), Elena Likhovtseva (46) and Roberta Vinci (44) took more Grand Slam appearances to make a maiden semifinal.

But Vekic, who won her first WTA title a decade ago at age 17, has been adept on grass courts. The Croat has reached five singles finals on the surface, including a title at 2017 Nottingham. This season, she is now 10-3 on grass, including a final two weeks ago in Bad Homburg.

Vekic's performance also matches a Wimbledon best for her country. Vekic is the second woman representing Croatia to make the Wimbledon semifinals, following Mirjana Lucic in 1999, 25 years ago.

"Before the match, I was relaxed," Vekic said. "The only moment where I was a bit more stressed out during the match was when I saw how well [Sun is] playing. It's not that I didn't expect her to play well. I knew she was going to come out swinging.

"I could not find the depth in my shots. I wasn't executing my shots as well as I wanted to. That's why I was, I don't know, a little bit more stressed and tense. But at the end I managed to find my game."

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Looking ahead: Former World No.19 Vekic will now try to go one further and make her first Grand Slam final, and she will have to beat No.7 seed Jasmine Paolini to get there. Paolini dismissed No.19 seed Emma Navarro in Tuesday's second quarterfinal.

Paolini leads Vekic 2-1 in their head-to-head, but this would be their first meeting on grass. Their most recent meeting came on the hard courts of Montreal last year, where Paolini prevailed 7-6(3), 6-2.

Match moments: Sun, who had a captivating breakthrough run to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, earned the first break of the day to lead 6-5, and a winning drop shot gave Sun the one-set lead. Sun saved all four of the break points she faced during the first set.

In the second set, Vekic used deep returns to lead 5-3, where she held a set point. Sun pulled back on serve, but Vekic converted her next set point in the following game, tying up the match with a drop shot winner of her own. Vekic had 12 winners to Sun’s eight in the second set.

With a head of steam building, Vekic was finding more powerful serves and groundstrokes in the decider, and she won the first 13 points of the third set en route to 5-0. Sun got on the board with a love hold for 5-1, but Vekic would not be denied.

Vekic crushed a crosscourt forehand to line up triple match point, and she only needed one chance after a Sun rally backhand flew long. During a commanding third set, Vekic won all nine points where she got her first serve into play, went 5-for-5 at the net, and converted both of her break points.