Going la-la for Lulu

"Welcome to Lulu Land".

Te Anau is abuzz after tennis sensation Lulu Sun reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals after beating former US Open champion Emma Raducanu 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 yesterday.

Sun, who was born in the Southland town, is the first New Zealand woman to make it to the quarterfinals, surpassing Dame Ruia Morrison, who made it to fourth round in 1959.

In Te Anau - where Sun lived until she was 5 and still has family there - the whole community has thrown its support behind the tennis ace.

"There’s plans for a sign as you come over the Gorge Hill into Te Anau: ‘Welcome to Lulu Land’", Te Anau Tennis Club president Greg Sheppard said.

"There’s big plans. There is a buzz, for sure. We’ve got a whole lot of new tennis followers in the basin, which is quite cool."

Lulu Sun, of Te Anau, celebrates after beating Emma Raducanu, of Great Britain, in the fourth...
Lulu Sun, of Te Anau, celebrates after beating Emma Raducanu, of Great Britain, in the fourth round of the women’s singles at Wimbledon yesterday. Sun is the first New Zealand woman to make it to the quarterfinals, surpassing Dame Ruia Morrison, who made it to the fourth round in 1959. PHOTO: JULIAN FINNEY
The win brought Sun to tears, alongside her sister and mother in the player box at Wimbledon in London. 

"I don't really have the words right now", Sun told the BBC after the game.

It was Sun's first appearance on the hallowed Centre Court at Wimbledon and she enjoyed the experience.

"While walking through the Centre Court, I was just, like, looking around and taking it all in for the first time.

"I'm just super happy to be able to play on this court. It's just such an amazing experience for me."

Sheppard always felt Sun would win yesterday, but was in awe of how easy she made things look.

"She’s worked pretty hard to get to where she is, so to finally be getting some results, she’ll be just over the moon", he said.

Sun was unknown to most of her opponents, which caught them on the bounce, and she had power behind a full calibre of shots.

"It just looks like nothing shakes her. She just is ice cool."

Sun often returns to Te Anau during the Christmas period and Sheppard hopes she will attend the club’s invitational tournament on December 28-29.

"I’m sure she’ll come down to the tennis club, have a chat to the juniors and sign some autographs - I’ll be lining up."

By then, he hoped Sun would have a Wimbledon trophy, an Olympic gold and the US Open title - and the club would be only too happy to sort a trophy cabinet for her.

Either way, a core group would get together to watch her next game against Donna Vekic, of Croatia, overnight. 

The tennis star's smash performance completed a wonderful day for southern sport.

Queenstown golfer Ben Campbell earlier won the $2 million International Series Morocco tournament in a playoff.

Gauff out, Rybakina through

Vekic overcame several rain delays to get past Spain's Paula Badosa 6-2 1-6 6-4.

Italian Jasmine Paolini advanced thanks to an injury to her opponent, as a teary Madison Keys withdrew at 5-5 in the deciding set of their encounter with a suspected groin problem. The final score ended up being 6-3 6-7(6) 5-5. 

Emma Navarro, the 19th seed, earned a stunning 6-4, 6-3 victory over Gauff in an all-American fourth-round clash. 

'It was a great match. I really dug deep to get the win."

Former French Open champions Jelena Ostapenko and Barbora Krejcikova reached the quarter-finals in contrasting fashion.

Ostapenko, who won in Paris in 2017, raced through her 6-2 6-3 win over giant-killer Yulia Putintseva, wrapping up the match under the Court One roof in just over an hour.

But Krejcikova, who secured the 2021 Roland Garros title, took her time to overcome American 11th seed Danielle Collins, who struggled with a leg injury during the second set, winning 7-5 6-3 in an hour and 42 minutes.

Elina Svitolina set up a showdown with 2022 champion Elena Rybakina with her 6-2 6-1 victory over China's Wang Xinyu. 

Rybakina settled herself after a slow start as Russian 17th seed Anna Kalinskaya retired with a right wrist problem while trailing 6-3 3-0.

- Additional reporting by Reuters