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Wimbledon 2024: Paolini outlasts Vekic in record-breaking semifinal

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London, July 11: Italy’s Jasmine Paolini battled from a set down and twice a break down in the decider to outlast Donna Vekic in three sets in the longest semifinal-ever in women’s singles at Wimbledon here on Thursday.

Paolini, the No.7 seed, defeated Vekic 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) in 2 hours and 51 minutes to become the first Italian woman to reach the final at Wimbledon in the Open Era. The previous longest Wimbledon semifinal had been Serena Williams’s 6-7(4), 7-5, 8-6 defeat of Elena Dementieva in 2009, a contest which lasted 2 hours and 49 minutes. Around 15 years on, Paolini held her first match point at 5-4 in the third set and her second at 6-5 before edging Vekic on her third in a gripping super-tiebreak.

The result was her third win in four meetings with Vekic. The runner-up at Roland Garros a month ago to Iga Swiatek, Paolini has immediately backed up that run with her second major final.

The 28-year-old is the first player since Serena in 2016 to reach both the French Open and Wimbledon finals in the same season. Paolini is only the fifth player to accomplish that feat in the past 25 years following Steffi Graf (1999), Serena Williams (2002, 2015, 2016), Venus Williams (2002), and Justine Henin (2006).

Having never won a tour-level match on grass before 2024, Paolini’s record on the surface is now 8-1, with her sole loss coming to Daria Kasatkina in the Eastbourne semifinals two weeks ago. Currently, at a career-high ranking of No.7, she is guaranteed to make her Top 5 debut next week.

IANS

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