Doughnuts, haircuts and Netflix – how I prepare for the US Open

As part of our series with the Women’s Tennis Association, the world’s top tennis players will write for on a rotational basis during each major tournament. For the final Grand Slam of the year, Croatia’s Donna Vekic gives an insight into how she’s prepared for the US Open.

Even though they’re obviously special, I try not to place too much importance on Grand Slams.

My mindset here isn’t particularly different from anywhere else, Every tournament is really important for me and I give 100% everywhere I go, so it doesn’t feel that much different to here.

But here I arrived pretty early in order to prepare properly.

My first job? A trip to the hairdressers. Always important on the road.

On court, I scheduled in a proper training block – the sort I normally only do when I’m back home – for the first couple of days and then have been just doing the usual pre-tournament workouts.

Everyone was dying in practice in first few days of this week – it was too hot! But things have at least cooled down now.

In the week before a tournament, you don’t want to overdo things on court and there’s plenty to do in New York – both for work and pleasure!

Vekic will be in US Open action on Tuesday (Picture: WTA)

On Saturday, I started the day with a coffee in my hotel room – the most important part of my daily routine – and went for a nice morning walk in Bryant Park before grabbing some breakfast – avocado toast and eggs – and sitting in the sun with my friend.

I then hopped onto the shuttle bus from Manhattan to the tournament site. The traffic was awful but, believe me, it’s a lot less stressful than when you get stuck in it on match day (I have been known to get quite stressed and shouty!) and I arrived comfortably in time to hit with Garbine Muguruza in the afternoon before my parents arrived and we went for dinner.

Eating and shopping are always high on my agenda in the Big Apple. I bought a few really nice dresses from Saks on Fifth Avenue and at some cute shops in Fifth Avenue. There was a new collection out so I went all in. I’d better make some money here now…

The restaurant scene is amazing. My favourite restaurant is a Greek place called Milos but I was seriously impressed when I went for dinner with my friend and Greek tennis player Maria Sakkari.

She took me to a Japanese restaurant called Koi and it was unbelievable. I highly recommend the salmon sashimi and the creamy prawn tempura. I’ll definitely be going back there while I’m here.

Maria and I also went to Catch – a very trendy place – along with Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic and really indulged ourselves with doughnuts with chocolate sauce and caramel.

Donna Vekic fact file

Age: 23
Nationality: Croatian
Current ranking: 23
Career-high ranking: 22
Best US Open performance: Round three (2017)
Best Grand Slam result: Round four (French Open, 2019/Wimbledon, 2018)

Let me tell you, I did not have breakfast the next day! I was like punishing myself and starving for two hours on court, “you ate that last night, you don’t get breakfast!”

As a professional athlete, I do worry when I eat unhealthily. I’m pretty good 85% of the time but let’s just say for that other 15% I kill it.

Aside from the joys of eating and shopping, there are plenty of other things that have to be squeezed into the week as part of my job behind the scenes.

Away from the court we have to do a few appearances, especially in weeks before Slams. There’s a media day with the press, I had to go and pick up my new collection from Nike HQ – I’m a big fan of this year’s black and purple number – and there are various commitments with sponsors.

Not every player likes that side of things but I have a pretty positive mindset and enjoy that part of the job, too.

It’s important for me to make the most of my time before the tournament gets underway as once it starts I don’t want to waste too much energy off the court. Afer all, New York can be pretty draining.

On my days off between matches I usually just Netflix and chill in my room. I’ve recently been watching ‘When They See Us’ – that was a pretty heavy watch!

Hogenkamp is her first opponent (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

When the schedule comes out, I’m always hoping I’m not the first match on, particularly here in New York when the club is so far away as you have to get up super early to make sure you’re not late or rushing. Fortunately, my match with Richel Hogenkamp on Tuesday is third on Court 12.

My post-match routine will change quite dramatically depending on if I win or lose.

If I get knocked out, I usually just rush to the locker room, shower and get out as fast as possible. Hopefully I’ll win on Tuesday and then it’s the usual bike, stretching, ice bath and having a bit of food somewhere in between as well as media duties.

Providing I don’t finish too late, I’ll take my team out for a nice dinner but if not then it’s usually straight to bed.

I try not to focus too much of tennis in my down time. I don’t like looking ahead in the draw but rather focus on my upcoming match and worry about the next one if I win.

Everyone plays so well these days that there are no easy matches so there’s no point getting ahead of yourself.

Hopefully I can have a decent run here. I’ll just try and stay as flexible as I can and do my best.

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