Outsider final

Italian Paolini is 1st Wimbledon finalist!

11.07.2024 17:54

Jasmine Paolini has become the first tennis player since US star Serena Williams to reach the Wimbledon final within a few weeks of her French Open final! The 28-year-old won the hard-fought semi-final against Croatia's Donna Vekic 2:6, 6:4, 7:6(8) on Thursday. This makes Paolini the first Italian Wimbledon finalist in the Open Era since 1968. Her opponent on Saturday will be Barbora Krejcikova from the Czech Republic.

Krejcikova, seeded 31st in London, eliminated the Kazakh world number four Yelena Rybakina 3:6, 6:3, 6:4 in the semi-finals. The 2021 French Open winner is now going for her second Grand Slam title. Success at this level would be a first for Paolini.

Initially, it didn't look like the Italian would win. On a sunny midday after rainy days at Wimbledon, Vekic initially dominated with her powerful game. In front of around 15,000 spectators on Centre Court, she won the first set in her first Grand Slam semi-final with two breaks at 3:2 and 5:2.

"I will always remember this match!"
Vekic, who had been thinking about taking a break from tennis just before the French Open, was unable to capitalize on the advantage of winning the first set or her lead in the third. The 1.63 meter tall Italian fought her way back again and again and had a match point at 5:4 and 6:5. But it was only in the tie-break that she was finally able to assert herself.

Vekic was already in tears during the match, and an hour after the match she still looked very upset at the obligatory press conference. Vekic complained of problems in her arm and leg. "I was crying because I was in so much pain. I don't know how I was even able to continue playing."

"I will always remember this match. The last few months have been crazy for me," said Paolini. "It's a dream come true." Her steep path to the world top reads impressively. Before the 2024 season, the Italian had never made it past the second round at any Grand Slam tournament. Now, just over a month after losing the final in Paris to Poland's Iga Swiatek, she has a second chance to win a Grand Slam title. She had never won a main draw match at Wimbledon in three previous attempts.

"I'm so proud of my game and my fighting spirit!"
Krejcikova could follow in the footsteps of her compatriot Marketa Vondrousova, who triumphed in last year's grass-court classic. Rybakina was considered the favorite after her victory in 2022 in southwest London and got off to a brisk start. However, Krejcikova was able to make the match more even in the second set and finally managed to turn things around. She managed the decisive break in the seventh game of the third set.

"It's unbelievable," said Krejcikova: "It's very difficult to explain what I'm feeling right now. I'm so proud of my game and my fighting spirit." She also remembered her late former coach Jana Novotna. Krejcikova turned away during the interview on Center Court to hide her emotion. "I just miss her a lot," she then said. Novotna had won Wimbledon in 1998 and died of cancer in 2017 at the age of just 49.

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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