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Sun inspired by YouTube greats in making Wimbledon history


LONDON:

Lulu Sun became the first New Zealand woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Sunday and hailed the inspiration she found by turning to YouTube to learn from Centre Court legends Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Qualifier Sun, ranked at 123 in the world, made the last-eight by triumphing 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 over 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu.

The 23-year-old left-hander hit 52 winners against Raducanu, who had been hoping to capitalise on an open draw and become the first British women’s champion at Wimbledon in 47 years.

“Just watching the professionals growing up,” said Sun when asked how she honed her impressive grass-court tactics.

“For example, Roger Federer, of course, coming towards the net, and I watched also Steffi Graf versus Martina Navratilova on YouTube.

“It was just so amazing to watch them. Of course I couldn’t watch them live but I was taking it all on from the pros, and trying to do that for my game.”

Sun will next face Donna Vekic of Croatia as she bids to become only the second New Zealand woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final after Belinda Cordwell at the 1989 Australian Open.

Before Wimbledon, she had not won a grass-court match this year.

However, her victory on Sunday means she will be a top 60 player at least after Wimbledon while making the last-eight guarantees a minimum of $375,000 in prize money.

Sun is the daughter of a Chinese mother and Croatian father.

After living in Te Anau on New Zealand’s South Island — a town she describes as having “more sheep and deer than people” — she moved with her mother to Shanghai before settling in Switzerland.

Until this year, she was playing under the Swiss flag having also played college tennis in the United States.

“It wasn’t an easy decision (to change national allegiance), it never is when you have to choose between two things,” said Sun.

“I’m still grateful for everything that Swiss tennis has done in my junior career. At the same time I’m also grateful for Tennis New Zealand for their support and all that they’ve done so far.

“It will always be all the countries that I have been in and have grew up or have a link to, they will always be within me in a way. I don’t think that’s ever going to leave.”

Vekic is also in the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time but she made the last-eight at the 2019 US Open and Australian Open in 2023.

“She’s had an amazing run from quallies. Obviously she’s playing great tennis,” said 37th-ranked Vekic.

“I don’t know a lot about her but no one makes the quarter-finals of Wimbledon by accident.”

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