Boulter shines as eight Brits progress in Nottingham
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Katie Boulter led the British charge at the Viking Open Nottingham by defeating sixth seed Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-3.
On a strong day for British players at Nottingham Tennis Centre that saw singles wins for Dan Evans, Heather Watson, and Boulter – along with multiple doubles triumphs – it was Boulter who stole the show by defeating a player ranked more than 200 places above her in the world rankings.
Boulter showcased her quality right from the off, unleashing her trademark power game from the baseline, which put the World No.52 under serious pressure.
On Bouzkova’s second service game she attacked with a venomous forehand down the line for 0-30 and after her opponent landed a poorly timed forehand into the net, she had the first break.
The Czech came back with an instant reply, breaking Boulter to 15. But her woes on serve continued – she won just over 55% of the points on her first serve all match and Boulter broke once again.
Boulter’s ball striking rarely faltered – with the chance to take a one set lead she pounced on a short ball with a driven forehand down the line.
She stayed composed early in the second – a swift break to open followed by a hold to love on serve for 2-0. She saved a break point with a punishing volley at 2-1 and got the decisive hold that would prove a pivotal moment in the match.
Bouzkova was clearly on the back foot and just about managed to stay in the match after saving four break points at 4-3.
But Boulter remained fully in control and after an hour and 42 minutes capped off an impressive performance with back-to-back games to complete a straight set victory.
After the match Boulter said: “I had no expectations coming into this week but I know the level that I’ve been putting in on the practice court day in and day out.
“I’ve been working super hard, putting in the effort and I really feel like it will eventually pay off. This week’s a start – I’ve got a long way to go yet but it’s a good result today.”
In the first match on Centre Court, Dan Evans came through a tough challenge against Matthew Ebden, beating the Australian 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4).
The British No.1 – who won the last edition of the Nottingham event in 2019 – was forced to work hard again after his marathon opening match against Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Evans has now won four consecutive tie-breaks in the ATP Challenger Event and faces American Denis Kudla in the next round, after he defeated Britain’s Liam Broady 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2).
Also advancing to the next round is Heather Watson, who got the better of her fellow Brit Tara Moore with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
Watson – coming off a bye – cruised to a 4-0 during the opening set, but found the going tough against the World No. 476.
After wrapping up the first set 6-3 Moore’s consistency shone through Balls she missed in the opening games started dropping the right side of the line and she broke Watson’s serve twice to level the score.
Watson – playing her first match on grass this year – dominated the return in the final set. She won almost half the points she faced on first serve and broke Moore three times on the way to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win.
In the next round, she will play Katie Boulter in a Great Britain Billie Jean King Cup clash.
Completing a successful day for the Brits – Johanna Konta, Lloyd Glasspool, Jay Clarke, Sarah Beth Grey and Emily Webley-Smith all march on in the doubles draws.