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Donna Vekic

Initial World Ranking: 109
Current World Ranking: 94
2013 Record: 19-15
2013 Titles: 1 ($50k Istanbul)

Tournament Breakdown

ITF $10k: 0-0
ITF $25k: 0-0
ITF $50k: 5-0
ITF $75k: 0-0
ITF $100k: 0-1
ITF $125k: 0-0
WTA Qualifying: 2-2
WTA: 10-8
Grand Slam Qualifying: 0-0
Grand Slam: 2-4

Surface Breakdown

Hard: 14-8
Indoor Hard: 0-3
Clay: 0-2
Grass: 5-2

Best Win

Sorana Cirstea (#24): 6-2, 6-1 (WTA Birmingham)

Worst Defeat

Alexandra Dulgheru (#228): 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 (WTA Cincinnati)

What did DW on Sport predict?

“Her ranking has shot up from 392 to 109 in 2012 and she should be looking to start competing more at the full WTA level next year. She should be fancied to qualify for the Australian Open, and at only 16-years old, she has the potential to go all the way to the top”

2013 in Review

Donna Vekic finished 2012 in excellent form and showed no signs of letting up at the start of 2013. In her first match of the year, she scored a very impressive win, dropping just three games in a demolition of Andrea Hlavackova at the Australian Open to set up a second round match against Caroline Wozniacki. Although she would lose, it was a solid performance that brought her to the attention of casual tennis fans.

After a brief stop in Kuala Lumpur, losing in three sets to Bethanie Mattek-Sands, she headed for Miami, where she came through qualifying without too many problems. She won her first round match against Yulia Putintseva before losing to the 29th seed, Elena Vesnina. She backed this up with another second round in Monterrey, losing to Urszula Radwanksa. Her first and only title of 2013 would come at the $50k event in Istanbul. Despite a few wobbles early on, she won the title comfortably as the top seed to finish off the early season hard court spell.

The clay court swing brought little joy for Vekic. A straight sets defeat in the first round of qualifying for Madrid against Chanelle Scheepers was hardly good preparation for the French Open, and she would lose again in straight sets in the first round at Roland Garros to the American, Mallory Burdette.

Moving onto the grass, she was clearly far more comfortable as she embarked on an excellent run in Birmingham. Victories over Camila Giorgi, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2012, and three seeded players in Urszula Radwanska, Sorana Cirstea and Magdalena Rybarikova saw her reach her first WTA final of the year. Sadly, a rejuvenated Daniela Hantuchova proved to be a step too far in the final, but it raised hopes of a decent run at Wimbledon. Alas, it was not to be. A disappointing first round defeat against the returning Petra Cetkovska was a blow, particularly given she won just four games.

The next stop was Baku. She looked as though she meant business, dropping just four games in her opening two matches, but another disappointment was to follow as she crashed out against fellow teenager, Elina Svitolina. That was to mark the start to a poor end to 2013.

She lost in three sets against Alexandra Dulgheru in the first round of qualifying for Cincinnati and struggled past Mariana Duque Marino in the first round of the US Open before winning just three games as she lost to the breakout star of 2013, Simona Halep.

Returning to Tashkent, the scene of her 2012 breakthrough, she was optimistic of a good run. However, victory over Lyudmyla Kichenok in the first round would mark the final time that Vekic would taste victory in 2013. Losses to Olga Govortsova in Tashkent, Kirsten Flipkens in Linz and Sabine Lisicki in Luxembourg were disappointing, if understandable, but the year finished on a particularly poor point with a straight sets defeat to Mandy Minella in Poitiers.

Analysis of 2013

It was always going to be a difficult season for Vekic. She managed her schedule very cleverly last year, picking up a lot of cheap points in weak African and Asian $25k events, so playing predominantly WTA events this year was going to be a big step up. Despite this, it has been a reasonable season. The standout highlight was her wonderful run in Birmingham, but she also reached the second round of two Grand Slams, plus Miami.

Her results dropped off a bit in the later part of the year and the way that she fell away in matches once she went behind was slightly concerning. However, she showed glimpses of her ability in taking sets off Flipkens and Lisicki, so there is plenty of promise.

Aims for 2014?

For the first half of the year, she will still be restricted as to the tournaments that she can play because of her age, so it will be tough for her to really move up the rankings. She will be hoping to pick up some decent results on the hard courts in Australia and North America before tackling the clay court swing.

However, where she will really be hoping to do some damage is the grass court tournaments. She showed that she enjoys playing on the surface and she could have a chance of a few wins at Wimbledon if she gets a favourable draw. With the restrictions, I would expect to see her limiting her clay court tournaments and focusing on the hard courts and the grass. Once she turns 18, she can start playing a full schedule, which should help boost her ranking.

A few comments
  • Her biggest weapons are clearly her forehand and the serve, both of which have the potential to become serious threats to most players on tour. However, her backhand still needs plenty of work as it is a clear weakness that players have been targeting.
  • The main area that needs work is her movement and stamina. David Felgate, her coach, has already stated that he recognises that this is the area that needs to improve, so I would imagine there will be a lot of work on that over the winter.
  • I suspect that she will struggle to really move much higher in the ranking until mid-2015 when she has had a full season under her belt with no age restrictions. It is tough to remember that she is still only 17, so there is still huge scope for improvement over the next few years.
  • She has stated that she will be practicing a lot on clay over the winter in an effort to become a more rounded player that can compete on all surfaces. If nothing else, this should help her develop her movement on a tennis court.
  • Stamina seemed to be an issue as she tended to fade away at the end of tough matches. She also noticeably struggled in the heat in Australia and Baku. However, again, she is still very young and is still developing. There are already signs that she is beginning to grow into her body and I would expect her to improve her stamina and build some more muscle over the next 12-24 months.
  • Being limited in the number of tournaments that she could play, there might have been an argument that she should have looked to play some club tennis, maybe in the Bundesliga or similar such competitions. It would have given her additional match practice, plus allowed her to work on her clay court game.

DW on Sport Rating


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