At the start of the match the end result looked impossible after Donna Vekicstarted as a bundle of nerves, and gifted the first break to Johana Konta in a nervy first set. It took both of them a while to settle, but Vekic seemed to be the more distracted with some of the line calls. She held her nerve deflecting three break points to avid a double break, but Konta was not letting up on the pressure, breaking once more before serving out the first set.
The second set was a lot more competitive from Vekic this time breaking Konta for a 3-1 lead, but she could not hold on to the advantage, with Konta breaking back straight away. Serving from behind though, Konta had to save three set points before forcing a tie-break.
It would be Vekic who broke away with four points on the run to level the match and take us into a decider. She kept that momentum on her side, breaking an increasingly edgy Konta at the start of the third set. Konta picked up her levels again though, with her serve getting her out of trouble, and breaking back to level 3-3, but a loose game at the end of the set put Vekic in the driving seat. She served out for her first grass court title, and just her second career title.
Vekic, on receiving the Elena Baltacha Trophy, named for the late former British No. 1 said: “It is something I have been dreaming of since I got my first title and something that kept me going, because this feeling is amazing. There’s no way to describe it. It just keeps me motivated to work even harder.
“To be honest, I really didn’t expect to win today. I was just hoping to get into the match, especially after the first set because I was struggling to find rhythm. I was just trying to focus on myself, serve as well as I can and try to be aggressive.”
Vekic added: “It’s pretty amazing. I’m really happy. The last time I won a final, I wasn’t allowed to have champagne.”
Konta: “There are things that I would have liked to have done better”
Konta had not dropped a set on her way to the final – her first grass court tournament since her first round defeat at Roland Garros after what was, on the whole, her best clay court season on the main tour.
However there were similar signs of vulnerability as we saw in that opener at the French Open against Su-Wei Hsieh, struggling to get control back in the match, but for a first tournament, she reached her first grass court final, and has a good amount of preparation to carry her into the two WTA Premiers she is scheduled to play, including in her home town of Eastbourne, before Wimbledon itself rolls around.
She said, after the match: “Credit to her for playing incredibly well, especially at the end. I’m very happy that I got to play five great matches on the grass. We just want to get as much time on the surface as possible heading into Wimbledon. I’m really happy that I got to come back and play here in Nottingham.
“Overall, I think I fought and played the best that I could today. There are things that I would have liked to have done better, but I think the majority of the credit has to go to Donna. She continuously raised her level as the match went on. She served better and better so I do think she definitely won it in the end.”
Both Vekic and Konta are scheduled to play in Birmingham at the Aegon Classic, which takes place between 19-25 June.
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