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Donna Vekic recounts her harrowing helicopter ride to Guadalajara

Guadalajara (Mexico), Oct 19 (IANS) Croatian tennis player Donna Vekic enjoyed a successful turnaround at the Guadalajara Open Akron defeating Laura Pigossi 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round but her arrival for the tournament wasn’t smooth.

A finalist in San Diego on Sunday, Vekic arrived in Guadalajara on Monday. Part of her journey involved a helicopter ride, which was going well. Until it wasn’t.

“It was great, except the door opened mid-flight. It was actually my fault because when we were sitting at the beginning, it was so hot, so I opened the door a little bit to have some air. I guess I didn’t close it properly,” Vekic was quoted as saying by WTA.

“10 minutes into the flight, the door opened. I was freaking out. The guys were freaking out in the back because I was sitting in the front. The pilot was like, ‘No pasa nada. No pasa nada,” she added.

Vekic grabbed the door and the helicopter landed safely. Thankfully, she could laugh about it afterward.

“Honestly, I’m really happy and grateful to be here. The tournament, they gave me a wild card. Without it, I wouldn’t even be able to play. So I’m just enjoying my time here, happy to play a couple more matches before the season is over,” she said.

The 26-year old has plenty to be happy about after her career-week in San Diego, where she came through qualifying and defeated two Top 10 players before taking World No.1 Iga Swiatek to three sets in the final.

A former Top 20 player, Vekic is now back in the Top 50 after a season that saw her undergo knee surgery in February.

“The ranking motivates me, but what means a lot to me is that I was able to play the level of tennis that I had last week, and for seven matches in a row. That really means a lot to me. It means a lot to my team. It gives me great motivation for the off-season,” said Vekic.

“Touch wood, but I’m finally going to finish the year not injured, and hopefully I can do a good pre-season and start strong in Australia,” she added.

In San Diego, Croatian received an unexpected surprise. Doubles legend Pam Shriver drove from Los Angeles to San Diego throughout the week and linked up with Vekic to offer her support.

“That was very unexpected, unplanned. She actually drove down the first day of quallies to talk about something completely different. She stuck around for the whole week,” Vekic said.

“It was great to have support from her, some advice from her. Yeah, so I was really happy to have her around. Her son as well. They were really supportive all week,” she added.

Vekic faces Veronika Kudermetova on Wednesday.

–IANS

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