(Reuters) - Sixteen-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic was denied her first WTA title as she lost 7-6(5) 6-4 to Tour stalwart Daniela Hantuchova in the Aegon Classic final in Birmingham on Sunday.
Vekic, the youngest player in the top 350 in the rankings, fell in her second final of the year as Hantuchova’s greater experience edged her to her first title at the Wimbledon warm-up event at Edgbaston, having been runner-up in 2011.
“She played a very good match and deserved to win,” London-based Vekic, who is trained by Tim Henman’s old coach David Felgate, told Reuters.
”This was my second WTA final and I‘m still only 16. Things have gone fast so far in my career but I‘m hoping when I make my third final I will win it.
“But it’s been a great week considering it was my first grasscourt event on the WTA Tour. Now I‘m really looking forward to Wimbledon.”
Vekic, ranked 89th in the world, showed her mettle to break the Hantuchova serve in the eighth game after losing her own to a double fault, going on to take the former world number five into a tiebreak.
Slovakian Hantuchova, 30, then pounced in the 10th game of the second set to claim her sixth career title.
All eyes will be on Vekic, who reached her first WTA final in Tashkent last year, when she makes her Wimbledon main draw debut this year.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Mark Pangallo