Paolini pummels Navarro to book Wimbledon semi-final with Vekic

Seventh seed Jasmine Paolini surged past American Emma Navarro with a commanding 6-2 6-1 victory on Tuesday, becoming the first Italian woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals. She will face the seasoned Croatian Donna Vekic in her next match.

The 28-year-old’s triumph saw her surpass fellow Italians Camila Giorgi (2018), Francesca Schiavone (2009), Silvia Farina Elia (2003), and Laura Golarsa (1989), who all had made it to the quarter-finals of the grasscourt Grand Slam during the Open era.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s fantastic to win on this special court. I’m thrilled to be in the semi-final. I’m at a loss for words right now,” Paolini said with a beaming smile.

“It’s a dream come true to be in this position… I used to watch finals here as a child. I must say, I played a really strong match today against a very tough opponent. I had lost to her three times last year, so it was challenging.”

Navarro struck first in the third game with a powerful forehand, but Paolini immediately countered. The French Open finalist then intensified the pressure with some forceful baseline rallies, securing a 5-2 lead in the opening set.

The petite Italian varied her tactics against her American adversary, comfortably winning her fifth consecutive game to clinch the first set swiftly on Centre Court.

Navarro, who had never been defeated in three prior encounters with Paolini, gave herself a fighting chance with two break points in the third game of the following set. However, the 19th seed failed to capitalise on either opportunity.

The 23-year-old’s aspirations of reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final diminished further as Paolini surged to a 5-1 lead, having thwarted another comeback attempt.

Paolini showed a brief moment of vulnerability while serving for the match, but an errant shot from Navarro secured her progression to a showdown with Vekic. Vekic had earlier ended New Zealand qualifier Lulu Sun’s dream run with a 5-7 6-4 6-1 victory.

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“In the semi-finals, you face challenging competitors, and she’s performing brilliantly,” remarked Paolini. “I aim to relish the upcoming match, give my all, and battle for every point. I am immensely thankful to be here once more, in front of all of you.”

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