Nottingham | Boulter survives brutal day to lift trophy for a second time

It was a brutal day, but Katie Boulter came through it all, and successfully defended her Rothesay Open title in Nottingham on Sunday.

Today was brutal. This is a little bit of deja vu. I'm not entirely sure if I'm dreaming or if this actually just happened. It's incredible to be here. It's got a special place in my heart and it always will. It's been an incredible week for me. Mentally tough after a hard clay-court season. Katie Boulter

The British No 1 had to finish her semi-final against Emma Raducanu on Sunday morning, coming from a set down overnight to win 6-7(13) 6-3 6-4 and reach the final, where she again battled from a set down to beat Karolina Pliskova, 4-6 6-3 6-2, to lift the trophy for the second year running.

“Honestly, I came into this week with pretty low expectations, just coming out here and enjoy myself,” Boulter said. “To come out here and play some seriously good tennis, and get over the line, I’m not entirely sure how I did it in the end. But I’ve gone back-to-back, and I’m super proud of myself.”

Pliskova also played two matches on Sunday, edging out Frenchwoman Diane Parry, 6-7 6-1 6-4, in the morning semi-final before taking on Boulter in the final later in the afternoon.

The day began with Pliskova’s own battle with Parry, the unseeded World No 64 who had stormed through the draw without loss of a set until she met the Czech in the Last 4, and eventually fell after 2 hours and 23 minutes of fine resistance.

Emma Raducanu won the first set in a marathon breaker on Saturday evening but could not keep Katie Boulter at bay on Sunday morning

© Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for LTA

It was followed by Boulter’s suspended semi-final duel with Raducanu, the two having played a tense 80-minute first set on Saturday evening, which Raducanu won 7-6(13) before play was suspended because of poor light.

When play resumed on Sunday afternoon, Boulter engineered a physical come-back to win the Battle of the Brits in a match that lasted 3 hours and 13 minutes, and improved her record against Raducanu to 2-0.

In starkly different conditions, and with Raducanu wearing strapping around her left knee following her fall, it took them both a little time to get back to the standards of the previous evening, which was reflected in a relatively subdued atmosphere court-side.

It took a searing backhand from Raducanu in the 4th game to lift the crowd, but the No 3 seed served her way out of trouble from deuce, before seeing out the 6th game with a perfect lob after a captivating exchange at the net, which Raducanu watched, helplessly.

The British No 1 made her move in the next game, as Raducanu, who struggled with her serve, double-faulted to hand her an important break.

Raducanu then blazed a backhand wide in her next service game to drop the set, and was under pressure again with her next delivery but escaped, only for Boulter to strike in the 6th game, drawing Raducanu to the net where she sent a difficult volley wide.

Hitting back defiantly in the next game, Raducanu broke the Boulter serve for the first time in the match to love, but the British No 1 struck straight back with a searing backhand winner.

Although the 21-year-old dug deep to break back, Boulter kept on coming, and put away a big forehand with a roar of celebration to break for a 3rd time running to take the match.

Karolina Pliskova also had to play 2 matches on Sunday, and could not find the reserves to combat Katie Boulter in the final of the WTA 250 event in Nottingham

© Cameron Smith/Getty Images for LTA

The win set up a Championship showdown against Pliskova, the two having split their first 4 meetings, and with every match going the distance.

Sunday’s contest proved no different, as Boulter returned to the court a little more than 2 hours after her match against Raducanu had finished, and began strongly, breaking serve in the opening game and then holding her own.

Boulter’s delivery had been particularly impressive against Raducanu, earning her 8 aces, and she was quickly into her stride against Pliskova, who was wearing heavy strapping on her thigh.

The Brit, though, could not protect her early lead, and the tall Czech stormed back to take the opener in 39 minutes.

Boulter has shown her fighting qualities over the past year, and she broke serve in the 3rd game of the second, remaining strong on her own delivery to force the decider, in which she gradually gained the upper hand.

Again her serve proved decisive, firing 8 aces compared to Pliskova’s 3, and she conceded only 2 double-faults as she won 70% per cent of points on her own first serve, while successfully attacking Pliskova’s second serve with growing potency as the match progressed.

The physical effort of the last 48 hours seemed to take its toll on the big-hitting Czech, who had ousted top seed Ons Jabeur in 3 sets on Saturday, and her stinging serve and baseline shots began to lose velocity, allowing Boulter to capitalise and force a decider, breaking Pliskova’s serve 3 more times to seal victory after an hour and 53 minutes.

Boulter threw back her head back in a mix of exhaustion and elation when Pliskova, the World No 50, netted her response to the Brit’s deep backhand service return.

Lifting the trophy again at her home tournament, which is a short drive from her home town of Woodhouse Eaves near Loughborough, Boulter had out-aced Pliskova, 8 to 2, with the Czech throwing in 7 double-faults, while the British No 1 finished the match with 31 winners to 28 unforced errors, outpacing Pliskova’s 21 winners and 25 miscues.

“Today was brutal,” 27-year old Boulter admitted. “This is a little bit of deja vu. I’m not entirely sure if I’m dreaming or if this actually just happened. It’s incredible to be here. It’s got a special place in my heart and it always will.

“It’s been an incredible week for me. Mentally tough after a hard clay-court season.”

Nottingham champion Katie Boulter poses with the Elena Baltacha trophy alongside runner-up, Karolina Pliskova after the final

© Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for LTA

For the second time this season, Boulter and her boyfriend, Alex de Minaur, have won tournaments on the same weekend, with the Australian men’s World No 9 triumphant earlier in the day at the Libéma Open in the Netherlands.

Boulter’s win here last year was her first WTA title, sparking an impressive run of form during which she reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon and the US Open, and climbed to a career high of 27.

She won her first WTA 500 title in San Diego in March, just after De Minaur had won his own tournament in Mexico, when he immediately jumped on a place to watch Boulter in her final.

“My boyfriend didn’t make the trip even though I thought he might after his win in ‘s-Hertogenbosch,” she joked. “We will have to be talking about that tonight, and see if we’re still going to be together. I hope he’s listening to this, because we’ve got some talking to do!”

Boulter, who stands a chance of being seeded at Wimbledon, is the 4th seed at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham this week, and is up against Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina in round 1.

(L-R) Doubles runners up, Diane Parry & Harriet Dart with champions Erin Routliffe & Gabriela Dabrowski after the Rothesay Open Nottingham doubles final

© Cameron Smith/Getty Images for LTA

In the doubles, Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski & Erin Routliffe from New Zealand, the top seeds, reunited to win their first title of the season, defeating Britain’s Harriet Dart & Diane Parry from France, 5-7 6-3 [11-9], in the final.



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