Jasmine Paolini reaches her second consecutive Grand Slam final by beating Donna Vekic at Wimbledon

LONDON — Jasmine Paolini reached her second consecutive Grand Slam final with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8) victory over unseeded Donna Vekic at Wimbledon on Thursday in a rollicking match that lasted 2 hours, 51 minutes, making it the tournament’s longest women’s semifinal on record.

Paolini kept coming back, coming back, coming back — after dropping the opening set, after being two games from defeat at 4-all in the second, after twice trailing by a break in the third at 3-1 and 4-3.

But the No. 7-seeded Paolini never went away, eventually converting her third match point when Vekic sent a forehand wide. This showing on the grass courts of the All England Club follows Paolini’s runner-up finish to Iga Swiatek on the red clay at Roland Garros last month.

The 28-year-old Italian is the first woman to get to the title matches at the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season since Serena Williams in 2015 and 2016.

“These last months have been crazy for me,” Paolini said with a laugh.

On Saturday, she will face No. 4 Elena Rybakina or No. 31 Barbora Krejcikova. They’ve both been a major champ already: Rybakina won Wimbledon in 2022; Krejcikova won the French Open in 2021.

The men’s semifinals Friday are Carlos Alcaraz vs. Daniil Medvedev, and Novak Djokovic vs. Lorenzo Musetti.

Paolini’s win at Centre Court was anything but easy for either woman. Vekic often seemed to be in distress, crying between points or while sitting in her changeover chair late in the third set. She iced her her right forearm between games or looked up at her guest box with a flushed face.

How surprising has this surge been by Paolini?

She never made it past the second round at any major tournament — losing in the first or second round at 16 appearances in a row — until she got to the fourth round at the Australian Open in January. And then there’s this: Paolini’s career record at Wimbledon was 0-3 until this fortnight. Indeed, she did not own a single tour-level win on grass anywhere until a tuneup event at Eastbourne last month.


AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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