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WIMBLEDON: Croatia's Donna Vekic returns the ball to New Zealand's Lulu Sun during their women's singles quarter-finals tennis match on the ninth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London. –AFP
WIMBLEDON: Croatia's Donna Vekic returns the ball to New Zealand's Lulu Sun during their women's singles quarter-finals tennis match on the ninth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London. –AFP

Vekic beats qualifier Sun to reach Wimbledon semi-finals

Sinner, Alcaraz eye Wimbledon semi-finals

LONDON: Donna Vekic shrugged off a service meltdown on Tuesday to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals and end the fairytale run of New Zealand qualifier Lulu Sun.

The Croatian, ranked 37th in the world, came back from a set down under the roof on Court No. 1 to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 and reach the last four at a Grand Slam for the first time. She will meet Italian seventh seed Jasmine Paolini or US 19th seed Emma Navarro for a place in Saturday’s final.

Sun, ranked 123rd in the world, drew first blood, breaking in the 11th game and serving out for the first set. Vekic battled her way back into the contest, but her serve fell apart as she served for the second set at 5-3, producing five double faults.

The Croatian immediately regrouped and broke Vekic in the next game to take the set 6-4. From then on it was one-way traffic as the 28-year-old made it 16 points in a row, racing into a 5-0 lead and wrapping up the match in a little over two hours. Sun, who came through the qualifying competition to reach the Wimbledon main draw, was aiming to become just the second woman from New Zealand to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, following Belinda Cordwell, who made the 1989 Australian Open semi-finals.

Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz will attempt to set up a blockbuster Wimbledon semi-final on Tuesday, confirming their status as the pathfinders of tennis’s next generation. Lulu Sun, the unheralded qualifier from a remote town in New Zealand, aims to become only the second woman from her country to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.

World number one Sinner takes on fifth-ranked Daniil Medvedev in Centre Court’s opening quarter-final. The two have clashed 11 times and their head-to-head reflects the recent rapid rise of the beanpole Italian. Medvedev won all of the pair’s first six meetings while Sinner has swept the past five.

All have come on hard courts, including the Italian’s fightback from two sets down to defeat Medvedev in January’s Australian Open final, his first Grand Slam title. Both men were losing semi-finalists at the All England Club in 2023.

“When Jannik came on tour, he hit strong from every position of the court, but he was missing a lot and losing matches,” said Russia’s Medvedev. “Then he stopped missing less and now it’s very tough to beat him. That’s why he’s number one in the world.”

Football focus

Defending champion Alcaraz, who is attempting to reach a sixth Grand Slam semi-final, faces Tommy Paul, the American 12th seed. The 21-year-old Alcaraz will be desperate to have his Wimbledon business done and dusted in time to settle in front of a television to see Spain take on France in the Euro 2024 semi-finals in Germany.

Alcaraz is good friends with Spain captain Alvaro Morata. “It’s time to support them, as I know they are supporting me when I’m playing matches or I’m playing tournaments,” said Alcaraz. Alcaraz is seeking to become just the sixth man to capture the French Open and Wimbledon titles back to back. The 27-year-old Paul is in his first Wimbledon quarter-final but arrived at the tournament having won the Queen’s title on grass. He has also won two of his four meetings against Alcaraz. — AFP

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