Sun's dream run at Wimbledon comes to end

Lulu Sun's dream run at Wimbledon has been ended in the quarter-finals by Donna Vekic under the Court One roof.

Sun beat Britain's Emma Raducanu in the fourth round and was hoping to become the first qualifier to reach the women's semi-finals since 1999 when American Alexandra Stevenson caused a sensation.

However, the world number 123 was beaten 5-7 6-4 6-1 by Croatian Vekic who will face Jasmine Paolini or Emma Navarro in the last four.

Sun hopes her Wimbledon heroics will inspire people and grow the sport in New Zealand after the 123-ranked player came close to becoming only the second qualifier to reach the semi-finals at the major after Alexandra Stevenson 25 years ago.

Lulu Sun in action during her quarter final match against Croatia's Donna Vekic. Photo: Reuters
Lulu Sun in action during her quarter final match against Croatia's Donna Vekic. Photo: Reuters
Born in Te Anau to a Croatian father and Chinese mother, Sun captured hearts in New Zealand with her stellar Wimbledon campaign before losing  to Donna Vekic.

There was disappointment for fans watching late at night in New Zealand after local media had hailed her "amazing run", but Sun said she was delighted to make an impact.

"I'm honestly just really happy to see that in New Zealand," Sun told reporters.

"To have people watch tennis more and more and grow tennis in New Zealand itself, and also for future generations as well.

"I'm super pumped that's happening. I can't wait to grow."

Sun's effort is the best by a New Zealander at a major since Belinda Cordwell made the 1989 Australian Open semi-finals.

She will also become the first player from the country to move inside the WTA top 100 since Marina Erakovic in 2015 and is expected to be at least in the top 60.

"Being inside the top 100 is going to help immensely. I'm going to be able to play more and more WTA tournaments, which is really nice, as well," Sun said.

"I'm looking forward to it."

Sun's immediate focus, however, will be the Paris Olympics where the tennis tournament will begin on July 27. She is set to partner Erin Routliffe in the women's doubles.

"I did enter myself in another tournament (Budapest) but unfortunately I have to withdraw because I don't think I'll have enough time to prepare for that one," Sun said.

"I'm super excited to be able to play at the Olympics."

A bout of cramp may have hampered her against Vekic but Sun said she had learnt valuable lessons about perseverance.

"I think the main one is just to keep fighting until the end," she said.

"Obviously through the qualifiers, that's really important. And even in the main draw, as well. To just enjoy each match, enjoy tennis."

- Additional reporting RNZ