‘This match I will remember forever’: Jasmine Paolini reaches Wimbledon final after winning three-set epic over Donna Vekić

Jasmine Paolini became the first Italian woman in history to reach a Wimbledon final after beating Donna Vekić 2-6 6-4 7-6(8) in an all-time classic.

At two hours and 51 minutes, it was the longest women’s singles semifinal in Wimbledon history and the win means Paolini is the first woman since Serena Williams in 2016 to reach the final of the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season.

“Really tough today,” Paolini, the No. 7 seed, said in her on-court interview. “She played unbelievable, she was hitting winners everywhere. I was struggling a little bit at the beginning, I was just repeating to myself to fight for every ball and to try to improve a little bit on the court. But I’m so happy with this win, I think this match I will remember forever.

“I was trying to think about what to do on the court point by point and repeating to myself that there is no place better than here where to fight for every ball, every point. For a tennis player, this is the best place to play a match like this and really, thank you for cheering for me,” she said to a huge applause from the Centre Court crowd.

“This last month has been crazy for me. I’m trying just to focus on what I have to do on the court, enjoy what I’m doing because I love playing tennis. It’s amazing to be here playing in this stadium. It’s a dream. I was watching Wimbledon finals when I was kid, so I’m enjoying it and just living in the present.”

Vekić – who was bidding to become the first Croatian woman to reach a grand slam final since Iva Majoli at the 1997 French Open, according to tennis author Bastien Fachan – broke Paolini twice as she stormed to a one-set lead.

But Paolini, who admitted she was “serving really bad” to start the match, soon found her range in the second set. It was a supremely tense affair, with Paolini only breaking Vekić in her final service game of the set.

In a truly memorable third and deciding set, the pair exchanged two breaks of serve to level the scores at 5-5.

Vekić, the unseeded world No. 37, then had a break point to take her to the brink of victory, but Hawk-Eye showed her shot was just three millimeters out, allowing Paolini to eventually hold serve.

Vekić began sobbing at the change of ends, but composed herself remarkably well to hold serve and force a tie break, which Paolini won after almost three hours of sublime tennis.

Vekić was reduced to tears towards the end of the match. - Henry Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images
Vekić was reduced to tears towards the end of the match. - Henry Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images

At 28 years of age, Paolini has enjoyed by far and away the best season of her career.

She has steadily climbed up the rankings since breaking into the top 100 in 2019 and in February this year won the prestigious WTA 1000 Dubai Tennis Championships, only the second title of her career.

She then reached her first grand slam final at the French Open last month, where she was beaten by Iga Świątek.

Paolini will play either Elena Rybakina or Barbora Krejčíková in Saturday’s final.

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