Donna Vekic in floods of tears as Wimbledon star crumbles during semi-final clash | Tennis | Sport

Donna Vekic burst into tears in the crucial moments of her Wimbledon semi-final defeat against Jasmine Paolini on Thursday. Tensions ran high on Centre Court as both women fought for a spot in the final at SW19.

Vekic looked to be cruising towards the biggest result of her career in double-quick time when she dominated the opening set against Paolini and took it 6-2. But the Italian showed immense heart and came roaring back to win the second set, with Vekic seemingly battling an injury.

The Croatian’s emotions spilled over as she felt the match drifting away from her in the decider. Spurning multiple break points while tied up at 5-5, and sending a shot wide by just 3mm to give Paolini the lead, Vekic looked up to her corner and sobbed.

The tears continued to flow at the break, before a deep breath brought her back to reality. Vekic went on to win the next game and force a high-stakes tiebreak. When it was taken by Paolini, a devastated Vekic just about managed a wave to the crowd as she made her way off court.

Paolini is now set for the first Wimbledon final of her career, having contested the longest women’s singles semi-final in recorded history at SW19.

“I guess it’s normal to be tired after a match like that,” said Paolini. “It was a really tense match. I tried to play my best, now it’s time to recover as best as possible. Now I’m going to have an ice bath but I’m so happy to be in the final.

“I was just trying to think about what I should do point by point. It was really difficult. There is no better place than here to fight for every point. I really enjoyed playing in front of the fans. For a tennis player this is the best place to play a match like this.”

Paolini, 28, is enjoying the best spell of her professional career, following up a final at the French Open with another strong showing at Wimbledon. “These last few months have been crazy for me,” she continued. “I haven’t even realised it fully yet.

“I’m just enjoying what I’m doing because I love playing tennis, it’s amazing to be playing in this stadium. I was watching finals on this Wimbledon court when I was a kid. I’m just living in the moment.”

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