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Sun hopes Wimbledon run heralds bright future for New Zealand tennis



Sun hopes Wimbledon run heralds bright future for New Zealand tennis

Lulu Sun reacts during her loss to Donna Vekic on Tuesday. AP

Lulu Sun hopes her Wimbledon heroics will inspire people and grow the sport in New Zealand, after the 123rd-ranked player came close to becoming only the second qualifier to reach the semifinals at the major after Alexandra Stevenson 25 years ago.

Born to a Croatian father and Chinese mother, Sun captured hearts in New Zealand with her stellar Wimbledon campaign, in which she beat former US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the fourth round before losing 5-7, 6-4,6-1 to Croatian Donna Vekic on Tuesday.

There was disappointment for fans watching late at night in New Zealand, after local media had hailed her “amazing run”, but Sun said she was delighted to make an impact.

“I”m honestly just really happy to see that in New Zealand,” Sun said. “To have people watch tennis more, and grow tennis in New Zealand itself, and also for future generations as well.

“I’m super pumped that’s happening. I can’t wait for it to grow.”

Sun’s effort is the best by a New Zealander at a major since Belinda Cordwell made the 1989 Australian Open semifinals.

She will also become the first player from the country to move inside the WTA top 100 since Marina Erakovic in 2015, and is expected to be at least in the top 60.

“Being inside the top 100 is going to help immensely. I’m going to be able to play more WTA tournaments, which is really nice, as well,” Sun said.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Sun’s immediate focus, however, will be the Paris Olympics, where the tennis tournament will begin on July 27. She is set to partner Erin Routliffe in the women’s doubles.

“I did enter myself in another tournament (Budapest), but unfortunately I have to withdraw, because I don’t think I’ll have enough time to prepare for that one,” Sun said.

“I’m super excited to be able to play at the Olympics.”

A bout of cramp may have hampered her against Vekic, but Sun said she had learned valuable lessons about perseverance.

“I think the main one is just to keep fighting until the end,” she said.

“Obviously, through the qualifiers, that’s really important. And even in the main draw, as well — just enjoy each match, enjoy tennis.”


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