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Wimbledon: A Confident-Looking Vekic Advances To Third Round

Jul 4th 2018

The casual fan may just know of Donna Vekic as three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend, but they should take note – the Croatian has game, as well.

On Wednesday, she took a step into the third round after a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Rebecca Peterson. It is the third time the 22-year-old has advanced to this stage in a grand slam event - the others being at Roland Garros in 2015 and the US Open in 2017.

Vekic generates quite a bit of power behind her flat groundstrokes which serve her well on the grass surface as they fly into her opponent quickly. Her serve can be deceptive and heavy, and she has quite the variety of shots in her bag which can keep an opponent off balance.

Donna Vekic

Where she has lacked at times is in the self-confidence department.  Many will point to her match with Jo Konta a year ago, at this event, where she pushed the higher-seed and fan favorite to the brink before appearing nervy at the end of her epic and emotional 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 8-10 loss to the Brit. On Monday, nerves were not a factor as Vekic was all business against Sloane Stephens to close out her first-round match.

And while she is just 20-16 on the season, she is 6-3 during grass season and reached the semifinals at Nottingham.

Ironically, Vekic and Wawrinka each pulled off first-round upsets on the same day as she eliminated last years US Open champion and recent French Open finalist Stephens while Wawrinka defeated Grigor Dimitrov even as he continues to look to return to full speed after two knee surgeries.

Looking ahead, Vekic has an opportunistic path to a potential quarterfinal. She will face veteran Yanina Wickmayer next and could see either 13-seeded Julia Goerges or 23-seeded Barbora Strycova if she were to advance. And while she has never defeated any of these players, the sample size is small, and she will enter the match with a more confident demeanor than in the past.

Vekic has often been seen in Wawrinka’s box, supporting another one of his deep runs at a major tournament, but as he continues to work his way back into form, not nearly as much is expected from the Swiss. He was down two sets to Thomas Fabbiano when play was interrupted on Wednesday. Clearly, he is not yet back to the level of player that won Australian Open, US Open, and Roland Garros titles in the past. And while much work is still to be done, perhaps this year it will be Vekic stepping into more of the spotlight as Wawrinka takes the role of supporter.