Birmingham | Boulter retires ill, but Dart advances to R2

Britain’s Katie Boulter retired after one set at the Rothesay Classic on Tuesday, while Harriet Dart advanced to round 2, and Heather Watson got pipped at the post and lost.

I'm fine. I’ve had flu, had a cold for the past week, it was just a kick from that. Obviously a long 10 days. I wanted to come up here anyway, I wanted to try, but I'm just not quite ready yet. Katie Boulter

Boulter, who successfully defended her title in Nottingham on Sunday, was battling a cold against Anhelina Kalinina, and, after the Ukrainian landed the first set, the British No 1 decided to throw in the towel.

The 27-year-old struggled from the start, labouring for almost an hour on court at the Edgbaston Priory Club, having her serve broken 4 times, and, when trailing 2-5, she called for the trainer and a doctor to have her temperature and blood pressure taken.

She took some paracetamol before carrying on, but once Kalinina had clinched the opening set, Boulter shook her head, and called it a day.

“I’m fine,” said a hoarse Boulter afterwards. “I’ve had flu, had a cold for the past week, it was just a kick from that. Obviously a long 10 days. I wanted to come up here anyway, I wanted to try, but I’m just not quite ready yet.

“I was quite sick during Nottingham, but I just tried to stay in the tournament as long as I possibly could, as bad as I was feeling. From my third match I was really struggling. But I just tried to get through it, and finish the week. It’s probably a little bit of a combination of everything.”

Boulter has the chance of being seeded at Wimbledon, but is now at risk of dropping out of the Top 32.

“It’s not the be all and end all, but it was a chance for me to try and get seeded there,” added Boulter, who is still planning to play Eastbourne next week. “At the end of the day, I’m going to play the person that I draw, and I’m going to focus on that.

“I do work hard to get my ranking up as much as possible but, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

Meanwhile, Kalinina next will face Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan, who was a 6-3 6-4 winner over France’s Clara Burel.


Harriet Dart had a comfortable win over qualifier Moyuka Uchijima in Birmingham on Tuesday, and will meet No 2 seed Barbora Krejcikova in round 2

© Paul Harding/Getty Images for LTA

Dart, the British No 2, recorded a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win over Japanese qualifier Moyuka Uchijima to begin her campaign in defence of her quarter-final placement here last year.

The Brit blitzed through the opening set, dominating with her first serve, and forcing the World No 72 to misfire, but the Japanese settled into the second, where they battled over breaks, both struggling to stay on serve.

After 5 breaks between them, Dart managed a crucial hold, swatting away 2 break chances to create a 5-2 lead before eventually securing the win after an hour and 24 minutes.

Dart will now face the No 2 seed Barbora Krejcikova from the Czech Republic, who was a 6-1 7-6(5) winner over Australian qualifier Daria Saville.


A delighted Marie Bouzkova came from behind to get past Heather Watson at the Edgbaston Priory Club

© Paul Harding/Getty Images for LTA

Watson, who received a wild-card into the main draw, suffered a 3-6 6-4 7-5 loss to Marie Bouzkova in a match that lasted just under 3 hours, and saw the Czech battle back from 2-5 down in the deciding set to clinch the win.

The British No 6, who reached the semi-finals here in 2021, helplessly saw the momentum shift in Bouzkova’s favour as the match went the distance.

A medical time out for Watson raised some concern, but, following her treatment, she sped off the blocks as the decider got underway, before a roaring come-back from 1-4 down began from the 8th-seed Czech, which made for a nail-biting final sprint.

A late double break by the World No 37 signified it was all over for Watson, as the Czech sneaked across the finish line in 2 hours and 53 minutes.

Bouzkova moves on to meet Diana Shnaider from Russia.

Recent collegiate tennis graduate, Amelia Rajecki, suffered the same fate as Watson after losing 7-5 6-3 to Shnaider, the World No 49, in what was the 22-year old Brit’s maiden WTA main draw appearance.

Ranked 884, Rajecki produced a commendable performance, forcing the Russian to fight back from 1-4 down to win the first set, while losing by a solitary break of serve in the second.


Elise Mertens (R) scored her first win over Caroline Wozniacki at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham on Tuesday

© Paul Harding/Getty Images for LTA

Elsewhere, Elise Mertens ground out her first career win against former World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark, winning 6-4 6-2 on the Ann Jones Centre Court.

Wozniacki had won both of their previous two encounters, defeating Mertens in the semi-finals of Båstad in 2017, and again in the semi-finals of the Australian Open 6 months later.

On this occasion, though, it was Mertens who came out firing, and soon established a 4-1 lead.

Known for their defensive style of play, both Mertens and Wozniacki hit with great depth throughout the match as they battled from opposite baselines, and although the Dane managed to get one break back, she failed to capitalise on her momentum, as the Belgian held serve to claim the first set.

The second was completely dominated by Mertens, who raced out to a 4-0 lead, and was soon holding a 5-1 advantage.

With Wozniacki unable to hold her serve to stay in the match, 28-year old Mertens scored her first win over the Dane in 3 attempts.

The Belgian’s precision and spatial intelligence gave her the edge to close out the match after an hour and 33 minutes.

It was a rematch of the Australian Open semi-final in 2018, where Wozniacki went on to win her only Grand Slam title before retiring 2 years later and having 2 children.

The Dane returned to the sport last summer, and is hoping to be awarded a Wimbledon wild-card on Wednesday.

Mertens advances to take on American lucky loser Caroline Dolehide, who edged past Nottingham finalist Karolina Pliskova, another Czech, 2-6 6-3 7-6(5), after an hour and 56 minutes.



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