Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 20, 2024

Donna Vekic – R2 Press Conference – 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

2024 Women's Singles R32: D. VEKIC/A. Sabalenka 6-7, 6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Donna, congratulations. A win over the world No. 2. You’ve had some tough battles these past few years. Can you talk about the match today.

DONNA VEKIC: Yeah, we played couple of times already. I know that I have a winning head-to-head. But, yeah, she beat me in Australia last year in the quarterfinals. That one hurt quite a bit.

I’m happy to manage to get a win today. She’s obviously had a pretty good start of the year. She’s in good form. So I’m really happy with that.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had the early lead in the first set, early break. In terms of being able to turn that around after letting the opening set slip, what was the key for you?

DONNA VEKIC: Hmmm… I mean, yes, I was a break up, but she was serving for it. It was quite tough to serve out there today. It was very windy. I think we were both kind of breaking each other’s serves a lot.

She played amazingly well in the tiebreak. Had a great start of the second set. I think I got a bit lucky with that slice passing shot. That’s tennis, things can turn around in one point.

At all times I didn’t give up. I didn’t stop believing that I can win. I just kept fighting.

Q. You were not very far away from going two breaks down. You lost just one game from there. Can you describe how things progressed for you? Did you just go several notches higher with your level?

DONNA VEKIC: Even second set I was just trying to go for it a bit more because she was definitely out-powering me in the important points in the first set. I was like, Okay, if you want to have a chance of winning, you have to go for it more. I started also serving a bit better. Yeah, I think her forehand broke down a couple of times.

Yeah, just took advantage of it.

Q. You’ve had a lot of big wins in your career. I’m wondering at this point of your career, what does a win like this mean to you?

DONNA VEKIC: Yes, it’s honestly a great win. She just won Australian Open. She’s No. 2 in the world. It’s great. It’s a bit also kind of like just another match. I’m very happy to be in the third round. I will try to make my first Masters quarterfinals (smiling).

To be honest, I didn’t have big expectations coming to Dubai. Told my coach that I’m taking this week as half holidays. I can tell you I spent more time on the beach than on the court. Maybe that’s a good way going forward (smiling).

Q. She can flip matches very quickly, as well. Even in the third set, you’re slowly kind of building that lead, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, always kind of with a threat that she could get hot again. What was your mentality going down the stretch to close that out as cleanly as you did?

DONNA VEKIC: I mean, in tennis, I swear it’s not over until it’s over. Like I said, matches can turn around with one point. I was just like, Okay, just focus, take it one step at a time.

To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking… These big leads don’t mean nothing anymore. You just focus and play each game as if it’s the last.

Q. You said that you didn’t have much expectation coming in here. This is the second time in Dubai, right?


Q. In terms of the tournament, why were your expectations as tempered as they were?

DONNA VEKIC: God, it’s too fast for me here. I played two of the biggest hitters in the first two rounds. I think maybe now I’m little more used. I’m playing Sorana next. It just keeps getting faster (laughter).

I don’t know. The conditions here are tough for me, but here I am.

Q. You were out-hitting her in some of those rallies, especially as the match went on. Do you acknowledge how hard you hit or does it not register?

DONNA VEKIC: Yeah, probably doesn’t register as much as it should.

I told at one point my coach, I don’t know, it was second set, first set, I feel like if there was a percentage of the balls I’m late to, it would be around 98%. So I don’t know (smiling).

Q. You mentioned about the difference in conditions here. Coming into the tournament, were you prepared for these tough matches in terms of how difficult it would be, whether it’s the physicality or…

DONNA VEKIC: I mean, every tournament you have to be fit. The whole year you have to try to be fit. There’s no more easy matches. Everyone’s playing well. All the matches are going the distance pretty much.

Nothing special I wouldn’t say.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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