Monday, 11 April 2022

Billie Jean King Cup: Croatia Women's Tennis Team Defeats Sweden 3-0

April 11, 2022 - The Croatia women's tennis team defeated Sweden 3-0 in the 1st round of Group B at the Billie Jean King Cup, hosted in Antalya from Monday to Saturday.

The first point for Iva Majoli's team was brought by the best junior in the world, 16-year-old Petra Marčinko, who defeated Jacqueline Cabaj Awad 6-0, 6-4 in her debut for the senior national team. Croatia's victory was secured by Ana Konjuh, who defeated Caijs Wilda Hennemann 6-1, 6-3, coming back from 0-3 in the second set.

Petra Martić and Donna Vekić secured the final 3-0 without losing a set, beating Fanny Oestlund and Kajsa Rinaldo Persson 6-2, 6-4 in the doubles match.

After the first round, Croatia took the leading place in the group, ahead of Slovenia and Austria, which also started with victories. After the singles matches, Slovenia secured a victory against Georgia, and Austria did the same against Bulgaria. 

Bulgaria will be the next rival for Croatia, scheduled for Tuesday, starting at 9 am Central European Time.

After Bulgaria, Croatia will face Slovenia on Wednesday, Georgia on Thursday, and Austria on Friday.

 The group winner will directly qualify for the playoffs for the 2023 Final Tournament, while the second-placed team from Group B will play against the second-placed team from Group A for the last, third place leading to the playoffs.

Playoff matches are scheduled for November this year and are played on a host-away system.

"I am glad that we are all together and in the strongest lineup after a long time. Our national team includes Petra Martić, Ana Konjuh, Donna Vekić, Petra Marčinko, and Tara Würth, and Antonia Ružić is traveling with us. This year, the competition format is challenging; we are looking for first place in the group with five other national teams. We are one of the favorites on paper, but it should be confirmed on the court. We must not underestimate anyone; surprises are common in a competition like this. Let's remember last year's success of our Davis Cup national team," said coach Iva Majoli before the tournament. 

"The fact that we will be in the strongest team is a great advantage. Five matches should be played in six days, and all players will compete."

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 18 January 2022

2022 Australian Open: Marin Čilić and Ana Konjuh Move to 2nd Round, Vekić and Martić Out

January 18, 2022 - Marin Čilić and Ana Konjuh have advanced to the second round of the 2022 Australian Open, while Donna Vekić and Petra Martić ended their run in the first round. 

Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić (ATP - 27th) advanced to the second round of the Australian Open, defeating Ecuadorian Emilio Gomez 6:3, 6:1, 6:2 after one hour and 43 minutes of play.

The only Croatian representative in the men's competition easily topped the 153rd tennis player in the world, who won a place in the main tournament through qualifications.

Čilić lost only six games and took advantage of seven break opportunities out of 11. Gomez made one break in the first set.

In the second round, Čilić will play against Slovak Norbert Gombos (ATP - 117th), also a qualifier, who defeated Timofey Skatov 6:3, 6:2, 1:6, 6:4 in the first round.

Ana Konjuh (WTA - 58th), the last Croatian representative in the main part of the tournament, advanced to the second round in the women's competition.

After two hours and 19 minutes of play, Konjuh defeated American Shelby Rodgers (WTA - 36th) 4:6, 6:3, 7:5.

In the third set, Konjuh was the first to break and served at 5:4 to end the match in her favor. However, Konjuh did not use three match points, and Rodgers returned. But Konjuh broke gain, won eight points in a row, and advanced to the second round. Konjuh had 5/9 on break points, and Rodgers 4/8. 

This was her first Grand Slam victory since Wimbledon in 2017. In the second round, Konjuh will play against the match winner between Danielle Rose Collins and Caroline Dolehide.

Donna Vekić finished her jubilee, 10th appearance at the Australian Open in the first round It was her premiere performance of the new season. Vekić lost to American Alison Riske (46th on the WTA list), winning only four games - 6:2, 6:2. Donna scored three aces, had a first-serve percentage of 44 percent, and did not reach a single break point. This was their sixth meeting and the third victory for the 31-year-old American.

After Vekić, Petra Martić was easily defeated in the first round after two sets against Jil Teichmann, 37th on the WTA list - 6:3, 6:3. Petra started the match with a break, only to lose her serve twice by the end of the set. The second set was decided after breaks in the third and ninth games. Martić scored two aces during the match with a first-serve percentage of 55 percent and used one of four break points.

This was Petra's 11th appearance at the Australian Open and seventh defeat in the first round.

Source: HTS 

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Friday, 26 November 2021

Donna Vekić Becomes New Brand Ambassador of Peugeot Croatia

November 26, 2021 - Osijek native and Croatian tennis star Donna Vekić is the new brand ambassador of Peugeot Croatia!

Croatian tennis player Donna Vekić, who won her third WTA tournament last month, signed a one-year collaboration with the Peugeot brand and became its Croatian Brand Ambassador.

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Tennis has been a part of the Peugeot brand for decades, and this sport best represents its values. Namely, tennis has been woven into the brand’s genes for almost 50 years. Peugeot actively cooperates with crucial organizations and tennis players and is undoubtedly one of the most visible car brands. In addition to the partnership it has had with significant tennis organizations, Peugeot is partnering with tennis players, including the most famous and best among them, Novak Djokovic.

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Accordingly, Peugeot Croatia decided to cooperate with Croatian tennis player Donna Vekić to support her in conquering the top of the tennis world. Donna Vekić, known for her relentless motivation, goals, and good results, fits perfectly into the strategy of the Peugeot brand, which in this way decided to support her on her path to sporting success. With the partnership signed between Donna Vekić and Tomislav Miletić, General Manager for Peugeot, Citroën, and DS Automobiles, Donna Vekić becomes the Croatian Brand Ambassador of Peugeot!

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During this collaboration, Donna Vekić will test Peugeot models, starting with the 2008 model, currently the best-selling car in Europe. This modern SUV of the new generation stands out with its unique style, equipped with modern technologies and absolute comfort. It is intended for everyone ready for a new dimension of driving pleasure. 

“I am thrilled to work with a brand that embodies superior design, quality, and driving pleasure. Peugeot has recognized my high ambition for further sporting success, and I am grateful that it will support me along the way. The values ​​I care about as an athlete and owner of the private brand DNNA match those that Peugeot emphasizes through its brand. I am looking forward to everything that awaits us!" said Donna Vekić.

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"We decided to cooperate with Donna Vekić because we believe that she best represents the values of our brand. It embodies in the best possible way the demanding attitude and emotions, and it is precisely these values of the Peugeot brand and its rich history of over 210 years," concluded Tomislav Miletić.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

First Free Public Tennis Court in Croatia with Wimbledon-Like Grass Opens in Osijek

November 23, 2021 - Donna Vekić and her family have helped to open the first completely free public tennis court in Croatia, in her hometown of Osijek, with Wimbledon-like grass that flew in from England! 

Donna Vekić's father welcomed the end of the Courmayeur final in Italy with many emotions. It was Donna's first title in four years, the first since knee surgery. Their long-lasting hug after Donna's triumph against Dane Clare Tauson said it all, reports Sportske Novosti.

"I won't even hide it. At that moment, I wanted not to show until the end even though it was difficult because I am a part of Donna's entire career, especially the last two years, and I know how much effort, will, and desire Donna has, how much work has been invested in all this, how many difficulties with injuries she had this year. I know how much this tournament meant to her, which will surely give her extra confidence for further work, and that is the biggest gain for me," said father Igor Vekić at the beginning of November.

The 2021 season was more demanding for Donna than before, and she was forced to take a break for three and a half months. With the triumph in Courmayeur, she jumped from 97th to 67th place in the WTA ranking, and for a short-term goal, she wants to be among the 20 best tennis players in the world.

"Donna's career has been long; at the age of 16, she entered the top 100 in the world, and after so many years in professional sports, it was hard to expect that such an injury would not happen. This jump in the WTA ranking is just a step on the road where Donna wants to be. She doesn't just want to enter the top 20; her goals are much bigger," Igor Vekić assures.

The coronavirus pandemic in the spring prevented a humanitarian tennis spectacle in Osijek organized by the Vekić family; a tournament called the Premier Tennis Show, the first edition held last year when the pandemic stopped tennis for several months around the world. The pandemic postponed the tournament but did not interfere with plans.

At the foot of the School of Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Osijek, the first public tennis court in Croatia was built, completely free to use. Its construction was financed partly through a humanitarian auction in which the items were donated by Roger Federer, Luka Modrić, Janica Kostelić, Sandra Perković, Goran Ivanišević, and Donna Vekić. 

Had Donna had such an opportunity in her tennis beginnings, it would indeed have meant a lot to her.

"This was exactly one of the reasons why we want to transfer Donna's result and success at the global level to the local level, to Osijek, where she started her tennis career. We wanted to provide the best possible infrastructure so that children can fall in love with tennis and so that children can play tennis and sports, and later show interest and talent for something more from time to time. Still, the goal is to work on popularizing it for children to get involved in tennis as much as possible," explains Igor Vekić.

Five months later, a public tennis court, the construction of which cost 450,000 kuna with Wimbledon-like grass from England, fulfilled expectations.

"The court has completely fulfilled its purpose; it is full, reserved. It is used by children, the youth, sometimes older players. What fills our hearts is that the court is completely free to use, and everyone can try it," says Vekić.

"The court operates from 8 am to 10 pm. The booking procedure is very simple, and you can book on the website premiertennisosijek.com up to five days in advance. You get a code that enters the system when entering the court and under controlled conditions uses certainly the most beautiful and best public tennis court in Europe," Igor Vekić adds.

Children from the Klasje Osijek Community Service Center, who receive free tennis education, are regularly on the courts.

"Through the humanitarian action, one of the goals was to build a public tennis court, but not only to stop there but to provide education to children, residents of the Klasje Home and now for a few months I can say that this cooperation is going very well. Davor Grgić from Donna's tennis team conducts education with his coaches, and the children are satisfied, everything is going as we imagined for these children to one day be able to use the court on their own," explains Igor Vekić

The next steps in popularizing tennis in Osijek are self-imposed, providing free tennis education to all interested parties.

"The next step, given this interest, is to provide everyone else with completely free education in terms of improving their game, working on the technique at the agreed time in two categories, children up to 14 years, but also adult recreationists who want to improve their game - we will make it possible," says Vekić.

They will also have a place to show their tennis skills because the first public tennis court in Croatia will not remain the last. The plan is to make a total of four in Osijek, with four different courts.

"We have partners in the city and county. For example, at the tennis court opening, the prefect and the mayor said what we wanted to hear: they would be our partners in further developing public tennis courts in Osijek. Our goal is to make four courts in different parts of the city with one special feature. Namely, we want to make four courts with all four Grand Slam surfaces," reveals Vekić.

Two years ago, the idea of a tennis academy was promoted. 

"We are completely ready. We have the "know-how," and in this case, we are waiting for the moves of investors who will get involved with our program, our knowledge, and professional staff so that we can work on education and popularizing tennis," said Vekić.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Croatian Tennis Celebration: Donna Vekić Wins Courmayeur Ladies Open Title!

October 31, 2021 - What a day for Croatian tennis. After Marin Čilić celebrated at the St. Petersburg Open, Donna Vekić won the Courmayeur Ladies Open title 7:6 (3), 6:2! 

Croatian tennis player Donna Vekić fought for her third WTA title today in Courmayeur, Italy, against 18-year-old Dane Clara Tauson.

At the start of the match, neither player managed to keep their serve in the first four games. After Tauson broke at the opening of the first set and took the 1:0 lead, Vekić retaliated, but Tauson then took the lead at 2:1. Immediately in the next game, Vekić took the 3:2 lead, and then with another break led 5:2.

The young Danish player then won her serve for the first time and reduced the score to 5:3. Vekić served for the first set and had two set points, but Tauson returned, used the second break point, and reached 4:5. The first set was then decided in a tie-break. Donna furiously started the 13th game, took a 6:0 lead, then lost three points in a row, but served at 7:3 to win the first set.

In the second set, both tennis players had three chances to break, but Vekić used two chances, while Tauson did not realize any of her chances. Vekić then went on to win the second set 6:2!

The Osijek native reached the ninth WTA final of her career and the first after June 2019 in Nottingham. She did not lose a single set in Courmayeur, and in the semifinal, she left only two games to the 56th-best tennis player in the world, Italian Jasmine Paolini (6:2, 6:0).

Donna Vekić won her last of the two titles in 2017 in Nottingham. Prior to that, in 2014, she celebrated in Kuala Lumpur. This was the third final this year for Tauson, in which she had won two titles, in Lyon and Luxembourg.

Source: HRT

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Sunday, 31 October 2021

Donna Vekić Moves to Courmayeur Ladies Open Final, Her 9th on WTA Tour!

October 31, 2021 - Continuing the excellent Croatian tennis news, Osijek's Donna Vekić has advanced to the Courmayeur Ladies Open final!

After a season full of problems, primarily due to right knee surgery in February, which saw her off the court for more than three months, Donna Vekić reached the ninth WTA Tour final of her career in her fairytale tennis season (only Iva Majoli played more than this Croatian tennis player - 17).

In the Courmayeur semifinal, the Osijek native beat Italian tennis player Jasmine Paolini (WTA 56) 6:2, 6:0 in 64 minutes and thus retaliated for losing (6:7, 2:6) in their only mutual meeting before in the Cincinnati qualifiers this summer, reports Jutarnji List.

Paolini is not an easy rival. This has been the best year in her career, decorated with titles at the Ladies Open in Bol (125K) and Portorož (WTA 250), but she was utterly powerless against Donna. 

Vekić opened with 3:0, Paolini came close to 3:2 but didn't have enough. A miraculous series of nine games by the 25-year-old from Osijek followed. Vekić scored six aces with five double faults, but she did the greatest damage to the Italian with her return. She reduced Paolini to a first-serve percentage of 41 percent and a second-serve percentage of 38 percent. 

In her ninth final, Donna will play against 18-year-old Clare Tauson (WTA 49), who defeated Ludmila Samsonova 4:6, 7:6 (8), 6:4, but what the result does not reveal is that the young Dane saved as many as five match points in the tie-break of the second set - and four consecutive as the Russian was up 6:2. Tauson was the best junior globally, and her rise in the professional tennis world was rapid.  This year she won Lyon from the qualifiers, as well as Luxembourg.

This will be the first match between Donna and Clare. Vekić entered the tournament from 97th place on the ranking list, and with the final, she will jump about twenty places. If she wins, she will advance another ten.

Donna was a two-time Tour winner, in Kuala Lumpur in 2014 and Nottingham three years later and lost six finals (Tashkent 2012, 2015, Birmingham 2013, Washington 2018, St. Petersburg, Nottingham 2019).

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Saturday, 30 October 2021

Donna Vekić and Marin Čilić Reach Semifinals in Courmayeur and St. Petersburg!

October 30, 2021 - Donna Vekić and Marin Čilić have reached the semifinals in the tournaments in Courmayeur, Italy, and St. Petersburg, Russia!

Croatian tennis player Donna Vekić advanced to the semifinals of the WTA tournament in Courmayeur, Italy, after she celebrated 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals against Xinyu Wang (WTA-110) on Friday.

The break at the beginning of the match was enough for Donna Vekić to take the first set because Wang never managed to threaten the Croatian tennis player. Vekić also started the second set with a break, but Wang immediately fought back.

However, at 2-2, Vekić again took the serve from Wang and kept her advantage until she served for the match. Wang then got a break. However, Vekić decided the match in her favor with three consecutive points after an hour and 28 minutes of play.

In the semifinal on Saturday, Vekić will play against Italian Jasmine Paolini.

Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić continued with excellent results in Russia, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 against Spaniard Robert Bautista Agut and advanced to the semifinals of the ATP tournament in St. Petersburg.

Marin Čilić reached the final in Moscow last week, and to repeat such success in St. Petersburg, he will play against Dutchman Botica van de Zandschulp.

This was the eighth duel between Čilić and Bautista and the sixth victory for Čilić. 

In the first set, the 33-year-old Spaniard was the first to reach the chance to break. He had five break points in the fourth game, but Čilić broke at 3-2 in the next game. 

Robert Bautista Agut immediately retaliated by returning for 3-3. The series of breaks in the first set was continued by Čilić, who again took the lead.

The Croatian tennis player then defended the lead at 6-4 in the first set.

In the second set, Čilić broke again at 2-2. But as in the first set, he lost the advantage in the next game.

The eighth game proved to be crucial, in which they played 26 points.

Marin had four match points, there were ten draws, and the Spaniard had six break points. He used the last one for a 5-3 lead.

The only break in the decisive third set was made by Čilić in the sixth game when he returned and finally won on his third chance.

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Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Vekić Out, Čilić and Dodig in Tennis Doubles Quarterfinals at Olympic Games

July 27, 2021 - Čilić and Dodig are in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, while Donna Vekić was knocked out in the 3rd round. 

Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig advanced to the quarterfinals of the doubles tournament at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, beating Americans Rajeev Ram and Frances Tiafoe 6:3, 7:5 in an hour and 31 minutes of play.

Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig repeated their best Olympic result achieved in London in 2012 when they were defeated in the quarterfinals by Spain's David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez.

"Marin is top-notch in these two matches, and it's much easier for me and I really enjoy it. Now it's just a question of how much we will play, stronger opponents are coming," Dodig said. 

"I feel good in doubles, the training with Ivan helped me a lot in those few days before the start. Now I have done it individually and acclimatized. Ivan's brother and my schoolmate helped us a lot with advice. Another great match today, Ram is a top player in doubles, Ivan knows him and he knew how to recognize several situations in the match that brought us key points."

For the semifinals, they will fight against Great Britan's Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury, who immediately knocked out second-placed French team Herbert and Mahut in the first round. In the second round, they were better than Germany's Krawietz / Puetz 6:2, 7:6 (2).

Mektić and Pavić's opponents in the quarterfinals are Japan's McLachlan and Nishikori. Mektić and Pavić are the first-seeded players, they are in the top part of the draw and they cannot meet Čilić and Dodig until the final.

After knocking out France's Garcia and third-ranked Belarusian Arina Sabalenka in three sets, Donna Vekić from Osijek was left without a place in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tennis tournament in Tokyo, where she was defeated by Kazakhstan's Jelena Ribakina 7-6 in the 3rd round (3), 6-4 after 101 minutes of play. 

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Sunday, 25 July 2021

Croatia Tennis at Olympic Games: Donna Vekić into 2nd Round!

July 25, 2021 - Croatia tennis at Olympic Games - Donna Vekić is into the 2nd round after defeating French tennis player Caroline Garcia!

Donna Vekić (WTA 47th) advanced to the second round of the Olympic tournament with a 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 victory over French tennis player Caroline Garcia (WTA 73rd). This was their ninth match and the fifth victory for the Osijek tennis player. In the next round, Vekic will play against the third-best player in the world, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, reports Nacional.hr.

Vekić won the first set convincingly with 6-2, with a first-serve percentage of 69%, and had two breaks. In the second set, Vekić's serving dropped below 50%, and Garcia broke at 2-0. However, Vekić managed to return immediately, forcing it into a tie break in which she did not win a single point on her serve. It ended 7-2 for Garcia.

After a 10-minute break between the second and third sets (the decision of the ITF due to the heat), Vekić continued well, broke her opponent, and took a 2-0 lead. However, Garcia immediately returned to 2-2, and at 3-2, Vekić used the third break point for 4-2.

Vekić hit two aces for 5-2. At 5-3, Garcia had a break point to return to the match, but Vekić got away and immediately used the first match point to win after two hours and 50 minutes of play.

Vekić will look for a place in the round of 16 against Belarusian Arina Sabaljenka, who beat Polish player Magda Linette 6:2, 6:1.

Just before the end of today's program, Donna is expecting another performance. In the 1st round of the doubles tournament with Darija Jurak, she plays against team USA's Melichar and Riska.

In other tennis news, Croatia doubles team Ivan Dodig and Marin Čilić defeated Japan's Daniel / Nishioka 6-2, 6-4 in an hour of play without much difficulty. 

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Friday, 25 June 2021

Croatian Tennis Players Find Out Wimbledon Opponents!

June 25, 2021 - Croatian tennis players have found out their Wimbledon opponents! The tournament will be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021. 

The only Croatian representative in the men's competition at this year's Wimbledon, Marin Čilić, will face Salvatore Caruso in the 1st round, while both Croatian representatives in the women's competition will compete against 20-year-old Russians - Donna Vekić v. Anastasia Potapova and Petra Martić v. Varvara Gracheva, was determined by a draw on Friday, reports Gol.hr.

Čilić, the 2017 Wimbledon finalist, was appointed the 32nd-seed of the tournament after Austrian Dominic Thiem pulled out on Thursday, so he was faced with slightly easier rivals at the beginning of the tournament.

In the 1st round, he will play against the current 97th player in the world, Caruso, who lost in the first round in his only appearance so far at Wimbledon two years ago. If he wins against Caruso, Čilić will play in the 2nd round against the better of the two qualifiers, Argentine Marco Trungelliti and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi, but in the 3rd round, he could face the second-best player in the world, Russian Danilo Medvedev.

Donna Vekić also received a not-too-demanding rival in the first round, 20-year-old Russian Potapova, the 82nd player in the world, who has played twice at Wimbledon so far and achieved only one victory.

However, in the 2nd round, the 25-year-old from Osijek will have a much more demanding task because she could play against the eighth seed, Czech player Karolina Pliškova or the Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek, who recently reached the semifinals of Roland Garros.

Petra Martić, who is set to be the 26th seed, will play against Gracheva, who currently holds 82nd place in the WTA rankings. This will also be her Wimbledon debut. If she wins against Gracheva, Martić will play in the 2nd round against the Romanian Irina Begu or the qualifier.

Vekić and Martić could be joined in the first round by Ana Konjuh if she defeats the Bulgarian Cvetana Pironkova in the last round of qualifications.

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