Donna Vekic, who has reached the semifinals in Nottingham, says that after she won Kuala Lumpur in 2014, she thought she would rise in the rankings very quickly.
But the Croatian instead dipped in the past few years. In 2014, she reached No. 63, but in 2015 and 2016, she was outside of the top 100. Now, Vekic is climbing back up the ladder, qualifying for Madrid and Rome.
She is currently ranked No. 70.
"It's been difficult. I've had some ups and downs in my career but I'm still only 20," she told Reuters.
Vekic, who dates Stan Wawrinka, said she found it hard to win consistently at the WTA level at first, especially when other players in her age group also started to break through on tour.
"I was playing those finals when I was 16 and 17, and it was more me who was putting pressure on myself, thinking OK, I have to win every tournament now.'
“Then all the other young girls came up, and like Belinda [Bencic], she was in the top 10 and I was thinking, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ " she added. "But I wasn't really doing anything wrong.
"It just takes time and I had to fall to get back up,” Vekic continued. “This will make me stronger. I went high then low.”
She now feels that she has turned a corner. “It was difficult for me because I was expecting the opposite. But I'm happy that I am coming back."