Sun goes down ending amazing Wimbledon run

Sun goes down ending amazing Wimbledon run

Vekic will play either seventh Jasmine Paolini or American Emma Navarro, 19th seed, for a spot in the final.

Up against a strong baseline game, Sun wasn’t as aggressive as he was in her quarter-final win over Emma Raducanu with fewer winners but didn’t back down from the challenge in the first two sets. Vekic praised the New Zealander’s efforts.

“It was a really tough match. She played unbelievable. I feel like she really pushed me to my limits,” Vekic said after her win.

Donna Vekic of Croatia in action against Lulu Sun of New Zealand in the Ladies' Singles Quarter Final at Wimbledon. Photo / Getty Images
Donna Vekic of Croatia in action against Lulu Sun of New Zealand in the Ladies’ Singles Quarter Final at Wimbledon. Photo / Getty Images

The Te Anau-born Sun came into the tournament as world number 123 and will break into the world top 60 following Wimbledon, which will mean a spot in the US Open main draw and should mean she won’t need to go through qualifying again next year.

She also takes home the biggest payday of her young career – £375,000 ($782,056) for reaching the final eight, as well some extra perks.

In a tense and even opening set that lasted an hour, the Kiwi qualifier got the vital break in the 11th game before closing out the set 7-5.

The first set went to serve early but Vekic had the break chances, blowing three break points in Sun’s second service game. In a long game that went to deuce 10 times, Sun held serve eventually with an ace.

Vekic had the upper hand again in the 10th game, two points away from the set at 0-30 5-4. But again Sun calmy served her way out of the hole to make it 5-5.

And then a few minutes later the Kiwi got the key first break of the first set. Serving for the set at 6-5, again the 23-year-old showed composure to take the opening set, leaving her one set away from the final four.

Vekic came out with a stronger serve in the second set but Sun responded as she also grew in confidence with her serve as the match went on. Vekic broke Sun in the eighth game at 5-3 and had the chance to serve for the second set, but suddenly struggled with four double faults as Sun made it 5-4 and back to serve, getting the break on her third chance.

But Vekic quickly broke straight back to take the second set 6-4 and then got on an unstoppable run in the final set, going out to 5-0 before Sun held serve.

Sun’s run is the best by a Kiwi at a grand slam since Belinda Cordwell got as far as the semifinals at the 1989 Australian Open. The last New Zealander to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon was Chris Lewis in 1983, when he went on to make the final, losing to American great John McEnroe.

For Kiwi fans who set their alarm clocks or stayed up until midnight to watch, the sun will still come up tomorrow and in Sun, New Zealand finally has another tennis star. The new dawn has only just begun.