Nottingham | Boulter breezes into quarter-finals

Britain’s Katie Boulter, the No 3 seed at the Rothesay Open in Nottingham, continued her title defence with an efficient 6-4 6-3 win against Canada’s Rebecca Marino to reach the quarter-finals, while Heather Watson, the British No 5, fell to former World No 1 Karolina Pliskova, 6-4 6-4, on Wednesday.

A lot of it was about staying sharp, going with the flow and serving well - it was a battle. I have some childhood memories here, so I always get that warm fuzzy feeling every time I come out here. Katie Boulter

Boulter’s dream of a second successive title at her home event is still firmly alive as the British No 1 breezed past the qualifier in 74 minutes.

It was her title run here in Nottingham last year that kick-started an impressive year for the 27-year-old, who since has risen to No 30 in the world.

“Just being back where it started reminds me how far I have come, and I just keep working hard every day and see what happens,” said Boulter, who is from nearby Leicester, after her win.

It was a relatively straight forward match for the British No 1, who converted 4 of her 5 break chances while taking advantage of 7 double-faults by Marino.

“A lot of it was about staying sharp, going with the flow and serving well – it was a battle,” Boulter said. “I have some childhood memories here, so I always get that warm fuzzy feeling every time I come out here.”

Facing a different type of challenge to her 1st-round scrap against fellow Brit Harriet Dart that could have gone either way, Boulter looked fully in control of this contest as she sped off to a set and 3-0 lead in very little time.

Although Marino managed to salvage one of the two breaks of serve, Boulter shrugged off the disappointment and lost just 2 more points on her serve the rest of the way to the finish line.

In the quarters, she will play the winner of the match between 5th seed Magdalena Frech from Poland and last week’s Lexus Surbiton Trophy runner-up, Tatjana Maria from Germany.

Heather Watson (L) lost her singles match to Karolina Pliskova but is still alive in the doubles with partner Ena Shibahara in Nottingham

© Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for LTA

Last year’s Nottingham semi-finalist, Heather Watson, bowed out in the Last 16 to the 2021 Wimbledon runner-up and the 6th seed, Karolina Pliskova, who won the title here in 2016.

Watson bounced back from a set and a break down to lead 4-2 in the second, before the 32-year old Czech reeled off 4 consecutive games to clinch her place in the quarter-finals.

“I am out here enjoying myself on the Nottingham courts, and I don’t take that for granted,” Watson said ahead of her match, having received a wild-card into the draw. “It is going to take some time to be at my best, I am realistic with that, it is about getting some momentum and getting to the last weeks of the grass court season, and playing my best stuff there.

“But I wouldn’t mind playing my best stuff here either. I’ll take it one match at a time and see how we go.”

Watson still has matches to play in Nottingham, having reached the quarter-finals in the doubles with her partner Ena Shibahara from Japan, as the No 4 seeds beat the all-British wild-carded pair of Sara Beth Grey & Tara Moore, 6-3 6-4, in the 1st-round.

Qualifier Kimberly Birrell defeated Lucrezia Stefanini to reach the quarters in Nottingham

© Tom Dulat/Getty Images for LTA

Elsewhere, Australia’s Kimberly Birrell was a 6-4 6-7(5) 6-0 winner against Italy’s Lucrezia Stefanini, and will meet Diane Parry in the Last 8, after the Frenchwoman defeated another Aussie, Daria Saville, 6-4 6-1, to reach her 1st grass court quarter-final.

The remaining Last 16 matches will be played on Thursday, when Britain’s Emma Raducanu and Fran Jones, both wild-cards into the main draw, and top seed Ons Jabeur from Tunisia are in action among those seeking quarter-final spots.



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