Donna Vekic nearly quit tennis amid doubts over her fitness after undergoing knee surgery two years ago, but the Croatian has made a remarkable comeback and captured her first title since 2021 by winning in Monterrey on Sunday.
Vekic went under the knife after the 2021 Australian Open and had said at the Melbourne Park major in January that she was in a constant fight to regain her old level after being out for months at a time with knee issues.
She won her fourth career title and first since Courmayeur in 2021 after beating top seed Caroline Garcia 6-4 3-6 7-5 in the final in Mexico.
“It’s been a great start to the year for me,” Vekic said.
Having beaten several top seeds in that tournament, she lost to world number one Iga Swiatek in the final.
“If the title didn’t come now, I believe it would have come soon. I’ve been playing good tennis and I need to keep working hard and hopefully stay healthy,” the 26-year-old Vekic said.
“I’m sure I’ll keep having good results.”
Victory over world number five Garcia marked the first time Vekic had beaten a top-10 player this year and she rose eight places to number 23 in the world rankings.
“It was a crazy match until the end, [Garcia] was playing so well, playing so deep,” Vekic said. “I was trying to win as many points as I could. It wasn’t easy, but I’m really happy to win.”