Battling Boulter suffers LTA’s Rothesay International last 16 defeat

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Boulter is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, the highest level of support for players aged 16-24
Boulter is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, the highest level of support for players aged 16-24

By Harry Light

Courageous Katie Boulter’s memorable Eastbourne run came to an end after suffering a battling three-set defeat against Petra Kvitova at the LTA’s Rothesay International.

The Leicester star, who is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme – the highest level of support for players aged 16-24 – went down 5-7 6-0 7-5 against the Czech ace in the last 16 after lowering the colours of world No.7 Karolina Pliskova just 24 hours earlier.

Boulter, 25, took the lead against Kvitova, the world No.31, on the Sussex coast but was unable to replicate her Tuesday heroics as the two-time Wimbledon champion showed her class to emphatically turn the tables.

Boulter, ranked exactly 96 places below her Wednesday opponent, has enjoyed a searing start to the grass court season after reaching the last 16 and quarter-finals of the LTA’s Rothesay Open Nottingham and Rothesay Classic in Birmingham.

She went down against two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep in the West Midlands last week but continued her promising summer form with a first round Eastbourne win against Tereza Martincova on Sunday.

Then came that thrilling triumph against Pliskova on Tuesday evening, fighting back from a 6-1 first set deficit to clinch a 1-6 6-4 6-4 win to grab her maiden triumph against a player ranked in the world’s top ten.

That sent her into Wednesday’s last 16 contest with her confidence sky-high but Boulter, who has received a wildcard entry to Wimbledon next week, was unable to continue her red-hot streak as the experienced Kvitova, 32, powered into another quarter-final.

Boulter came flying out of the blocks as she clinched the first set with a 7-5 triumph.

But Kvitova, SW19 champion in 2011 and 2014, battled back to restore parity with a decisive 6-0 win in the second.

That teed up another pulsating south coast decider but Boulter ran out of steam with the finish line looming as Kvitova advanced to the last eight.

The result will do little to diminish Boulter’s confidence heading into Wimbledon, however, where she will bid to build on her second round appearances in 2018 and 2021.

Injuries have plagued her in recent years and have once again affected her this season, with the city star forced to miss most of the clay court season.

But having regained fitness, Boulter is now approaching Wimbledon and the rest of the season with less pressure - and a sense of fun.

She said: “I think these past few years have taught me a lot, where I just want to go out there, smile, have fun and maybe not take it a little too seriously. I think that really works for my game.

“Having gone through a lot of pain off the court, through injuries and what have you, I think it’s a change of perspective for me. To be someone who is a fighter, that is my best attribute and I know I can draw on that when I need to.

“I think a lot of it is a perspective change from the past few things that have happened to me.”

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

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