Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
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Vekic had taken two hours 48 minutes to get past fifth seed Lucie Safarova in the semi-finals and was on court for two hours 29 mins before being able to finally overcome the British No.1 Johanna Konta who came into the final not having dropped a set in the tournament.
Vekic was just 17 when she won her first title in Kuala Lumpur and was understandably delighted to end her barren run and also give herself a major lift heading into Wimbledon. She ate at Nando’s every night during the Nottingham event believing the food was bringing her good luck but headed straight to Birmingham for the next WTA event and insisted: “No, I am not going to Nando’s tonight – but it was lucky for me this week!”
Vekic, who is still only 20, was a Wimbledon quarter-finalist in the girl’s event in 2012 and reached the final of Birmingham the following year, but the Croatian world No.70 has not be able to recapture that kind of form. Her final showing at Nottingham suggests that may be about to change and she has the game to be much higher up the rankings.
She said: "Jo played really well and was putting a lot of pressure on me and I had to serve really well. I didn’t expect to win today because she is playing so well."
“I am playing Birmingham and I made the final there a few years ago and then take a few days off and get ready for Wimbledon. You always try and get matches before a Grand Slam but for me this is amazing for my whole year to win the title. I have been dreaming of this moment since I won that title in Kuala Lumpur and there is now way to describe the feeling and it makes you want to work even harder.”
Konta has a 1-5 record at Wimbledon having first appeared in The Championships in 2012 and she had to wait until last year to finally register a first round win, beating Monica Puig. Konta did take 28th seed Christina McHale to 10-8 in the deciding set on that debut appearance and coming up against seeded players has been a regular problem, with the British No.1 drawn against fourth seed Maria Sharapova in 2015.
Konta’s performances on grass have been slowly improving since her debut five years ago, with this her first final on the surface. Understandably disappointed to miss out on her first grass court title, Konta said: "Credit to her for playing incredibly well, especially at the end. I’m very happy that I got to play five great matches on the grass. We just want to get as much time on the surface as possible heading into Wimbledon. She served better and better so I do think she definitely won it in the end.”
The British pair of Laura Robson and Joss Rae lost the women’s double final to the Australian pair of Monique Adamczak and Storm Sanders 6-4,4-6,10-4.
Dudi Sela, of Israel, took the men’s title for a second time having won at Nottingham in 2011 when it was a Challenger event. He battled it out in the heat, delivering a very athletic performance – including forward rolls, slides and dives – to eventually overcome Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Sela picked up a winner’s cheque for 18,290 euros and also 125 vital ranking points which will make his flight home to Israel all the more enjoyable before he returns for Wimbledon.
Sela, who has now won 22 titles – mainly on the Challenger circuit – first picked up a trophy when he was 17 and now he is 32-years-old. He said: "I hope I can come back here and defend the title. I have played here five times and always enjoy the tournament and I had to play well to defeat Thomas who was very tough in the first set. This is even better to win a trophy at this age and hopefully there are many more to come.”