Staying power pays dividends for Katie Boulter at SW19

Katie Boulter’s staying power paid dividends as she battled through an elongated two-day match to reach the second round of Wimbledon.

Leicester player Boulter, who is a recent graduate of the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, was handed an encounter against Australian Daria Saville to start her campaign at SW19 this year.

The British No.1 may have been favourite on paper against an opponent currently ranked 231st in the world, but in reality Saville was always going to provide a stern test.

Before enduring multiple injury issues – including an ACL tear in October 2022 – Saville reached a career high of 20th in the WTA Rankings and twice reached the second week of her home Grand Slam.

And the opening stages of the encounter proved as tight as expected, with the Australian leading 6-5 on serve before play was suspended due to rain on Tuesday.

After further rain delays on Wednesday, Boulter and Saville finally returned to Court 18 mid-afternoon and faced yet another temporary stoppage when a protester got onto court.

But the Brit was eventually able to take a tight opening set, and ultimately eased her way to a 7-6(4) 6-2 victory.

She said: “Obviously, I’m super happy, It was not easy conditions. There was a lot going on. I really had to work hard to focus on myself and stay in the moment.

“I think going into that match it was a lot based on conditions. Tuesday, it was a lot heavier. I was a little bit nervous – obviously it’s the first match at Wimbledon, you’d be inhuman not to have any nerves.

“For me it was about continually swinging. I think I was a bit clearer today on the game plan. She played very, very well yesterday. She made me play a lot of balls.

“Especially when it’s a little bit heavy, a little bit more moist, it’s harder to hit through the ball. She’s going to make every single ball. It’s tough for me to hit through her.

“[On Wednesday] I did a really good job with that and I had a clear game plan.”

There were over 30 hours between Boulter starting her match and the completion of the contest on Wednesday.

And though that was something that she found challenging, she revelled in a partisan atmosphere across all of the match.

“It’s been quite a time frame. I haven’t played a match like this in a long time where I’ve been on and off for rain in terms of this extended period of time,” added Boulter.

“I think it’s something that is part of tennis and we have to deal with it. I handled it very, very well. I’m through to the next round, and I’ve got a smile on my face.

“Going out there when we were walking up, we could already hear the cheers and the screaming. I actually love the atmosphere because it was a little bit of Aussie versus the UK at the same time.

“I live for these matches, whether it’s against me or with me, it does get the best out of me. It’s great to have the British crowd behind us.”

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