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Vekic serving up fresh ideas

“It is not just that, for example last week in Adelaide our tournament was a premier levels and the guys was an ATP 250. On some days the guys had more matches on centre court.

“In Brisbane there was a whole lot of talk about girls not being on centre court before Thursday.
“We had No.1, No.2 [players playing] … it was crazy it was one of the strongest tournaments of the year and we don’t get to play on centre court.

“It’s definitely a little bit disappointing because, OK Novak [Djokovic] was there, they have amazing players but they could have scheduled it better. Maybe one session of ATP Cup and two women’s matches, for sure they want to see Ash Barty on centre court.”

Vekic praised the work the council she sits on does and also spoke highly of the ATP Player Council [the male equivalent] but thinks a tennis players’ union is not on the horizon like some are pushing for.

Donna Vekic tunes up for the Australian Open in Adelaide.

Donna Vekic tunes up for the Australian Open in Adelaide.Credit:Getty Images

“Some do their own thing and that’s fine, it is very time consuming [WTA Players Council work] … everyone is saying we should get a union but we are so far away from that I think. Not just girls, guys as well. We should try to be a little bit more together.”

Vekic comes to Melbourne Park ranked No.20 in the world (one off her top ranking of 19) and after her most consistent year on tour having achieved her best grand slam finish, the 2019 US Open quarter final.

She plays Maria Sharapova in the first round as the 19th seed, the Russian not seeded thanks to a horror 2019 of injury battles.

Vekic practiced with Sharapova over the off-season and knows how tough and resilient she can be and is aware such a first round draw is a potential slipping point at her fifth Australian Open and seventh time in the country including junior tournaments.

She broke into the top 100 at the age of 16 and is sometimes shocked at how seasoned she is given her age.

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“I was just practicing with Caroline [Wozniacki] this morning and I was thinking about when I played her seven years ago.

“I was like, ‘Oh my god it’s been seven years, it’s a lot!’

“My seventh Australian Open and I am only 23 years old. If I had that perspective of knowing I was going to play this tournament seven more times and I was only 23 – and maybe I can play seven more times – I would have relaxed a bit. I would tell myself that now as well, to relax a bit.

“Every grand slam we are so stressed and especially me I want to win every tournament and play well and win matches and sometimes I get too down on myself.”

Vekic has Croatian support at her games but is yet to make ties with Melbourne’s large Croatian community. She didn’t know, for example, there is big Croatian soccer and cultural hub in Melbourne’s west.

“I saw Ajla [Tomjlanovic] this morning and she was like, ‘Oh my god I ordered UberEats from Cevapi Grill last night’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ ”

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