Katie Boulter

Katie Boulter hoping first-round battle sets her up for Wimbledon tilt

Katie Boulter believes her first-round Wimbledon battle will set her up for a climb through the SW19 draw after digging deep for victory on No. 3 Court.

It was a shaky start for the 27-year-old against Germany’s Tatjana Maria, broken at the first opportunity as early nerves showed in the opening set but the British No. 1 grew in confidence and played her way to breaking back.

The chips were down but Boulter was not and despite recording 28 unforced errors to Maria’s seven in the opener, the Leicester ace edged the tie-break to steal an important lead.

A tight tussle ensued in the second but, in what is quickly becoming a Boulter trademark, the Brit powered through to win 7-6 (6) 7-5.

She said: “I knew she made semi-finals here a couple of years ago and you can completely see why.

“She’s so tough to play and great competitor, makes me work for absolutely everything and I’m looking forward to the ice bath, I can’t say I’ve said that before.

“She’s very tricky but I also know if I can get through that one, it’ll set me up well for the rest of the matches.

“She’s such an established player and full credit to her, she worked hard today but I’m just very happy to be through.”

This time last year, Boulter received a wild card into Wimbledon – this year, she is enjoying a maiden outing as the 32nd seed.

Boulter’s win means she set up a second-round encounter with British No. 2 Harriet Dart on Thursday, guaranteeing a British woman will make the third round of Wimbledon this year.

The pair shared a marathon meeting at the LTA’s Rothesay Open Nottingham last month, in which Boulter came out on top and went on to secure a second successive title in the Midlands.

She said: “Playing a Brit in the UK on the grass is never an easy draw, it will be an absolute battle, we’ve played quite a few times before so I’ll be looking at those and thinking about what I’m going to do going into it.

“For me, it’s about playing the tennis ball, it’s not about playing the person and we’re obviously Billie Jean King Cup mates on the court so I’ve got to try and forget that and focus on the tennis.”

And it was delight for Boulter’s other half Alex de Minaur who downed fellow Australian James Duckworth in three sets via three tie-breaks.

He will also play on Thursday as the win means he will face Spain’s Jaume Munar in the second round of men’s singles.

Boulter added: “It’s been a journey, that’s for sure, we’ve worked super hard as a team, I’ve got an incredible team around me.

“I don’t want to make them too big headed but they’ve really helped me through some tough stuff.

“I’ve been playing some very good tennis and no matter what happens in this tournament, I’m so proud of myself to have that number by my name and I just want to keep pushing on and see how far I can go.”

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website

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