Paris | Badosa downs Boulter

The last Brit standing at the French Open on Day 3 was Katie Boulter, who put herself in position to notch up a stellar win against the former World No 2 Paula Badosa, but narrowly lost, 4-6 7-5 6-4, after an excellent battle on Tuesday night at Roland Garros.

I am sitting here with a bit of a heavy heart. It was an absolute battle, I gave it everything. She’s a true fighter. She’s been two in the world for a reason. I tried to match that today. I was really close and played some really good tennis - aggressive tennis. As much as it hurts, I don’t mind going out in a way like that. Katie Boulter

Following a rainy day in Paris, the match, which was to have been played 3rd on Court 14, was moved under the lights of Court 9, and was contested late into the evening.

They stepped onto court at 9.11pm local time, and Boulter found herself down 2-4 in the first set, but the British No 1 then won 6 consecutive games to claim the opener, and go a break up in the second.

Seeded 26 at Roland Garros, Boulter then held 3 break points at 5-5 to serve for her first ever win here, but Badosa, whose ranking has plummeted to No 139 as a result of a stress fracture in her back that kept her out of action for the best part of 6 months, fought back to claim the set, and sent the contest in a tight decider.

It was a tough draw for Boulter, who, on paper, was expected to win, but the Spaniard held the edge of experience on the clay courts of Roland Garros, and, as the rallies lengthened towards the climax, and could well have gone either way, Badosa prevailed.

The match was watched by Alex de Minaur, who turned up to support Boulter, his girlfriend, but Badosa’s boyfriend Stefanos Tsitsipas was absent, due to his own round 2 match being scheduled for the morning.

Boulter, without doubt, will rue the volley sitters at the net that she missed, and the fact that she did not put away her opponent when she was up a set and 4-2, but, at the last, Badosa proved the more resilient, and did not throw in the towel, piling pressure on the Brit, who slapped a forehand into the net on the Spaniard’s first match point at 11.29pm.

With a gigantic roar, Badosa had edged a very tight 2 hour 18 minute tussle of very fine tennis.

Katie Boulter had her chances and kept things tight against Paula Badosa but lost in 3 close sets

© Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Ahead of the match, Badosa said that she had shared a good friendship with Boulter.

“Yeah, I mean, when I was injured, she was checking on me,” Badosa said in the press conference. “Of course, I think a long time ago, she had a similar injury.

“So we are good friends. She’s a nice person. Really happy how she started the year. I think she’s playing very well. She’s a dangerous player. Really aggressive. So it’s going to be a tough match,” she added.

This was only Boulter’s 5th tour-level match on clay, and the 27-year-old went toe-to-toe with a class player, who is a rebuilding after injury and has bags more experience on the surface.

She and 26-year-old Badosa looked almost indistinguishable, with their matching Nike kits, white shoes, identical Wilson rackets, visor caps and long blond ponytails, and, for the most part there was little to separate them on the court, either.

“I am sitting here with a bit of a heavy heart,” she said later. “It was an absolute battle, I gave it everything.

“She’s a true fighter. She’s been two in the world for a reason. I tried to match that today. I was really close and played some really good tennis – aggressive tennis. As much as it hurts, I don’t mind going out in a way like that.”

On developing her clay-court game, Boulter added: “We’re working so hard behind the scenes. You guys don’t see the majority of what I’m doing but it’s starting to show.

“It inspires me into next season. My level is there, I can compete, I can go out and win a lot of matches on the clay court. It’s just a matter of me feeling comfortable.”

It is to Boulter’s credit that there was able to keep the skirmish so tight for the most past on court, but she nevertheless joins Andy Murray, Jack Draper, Cam Norrie, Harriet Dart and Dan Evans in falling at the first hurdle in Paris, the first time that no British singles players have won a match at the clay-court Grand Slam since 2020, and the 4th time this century.

“Honestly, I can’t speak for the others,” Boulter said. “I can only speak for myself, and I’ve worked so hard to be in this position, and I’ve just lost out in the finest of margins.

“Ultimately, I’ve done the best that I can, and I will keep doing the very best that I can, and put my heart on the line every single match I can play.”

Meanwhile, Badosa moves on to face Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan, who was a surprisingly easy winner over former US Open champion Sloane Stephens, 6-1 6-2

Victoria Azarenka made light work of Nadia Podoroska to advance to round 2 were she will meet Mirra Andreeva

© Clive Mason/Getty Images

Also under the lights in the heavy conditions following rain, Victoria Azarenka, the No 19 seed from Belarus, easily beat Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska, 6-1 6-0, to advance to the 2nd round at Roland-Garros, where the World No 21 will meet Mirra Andreeva.

The 17-year old Russian’s match scheduled for Court 9 was transferred to Court 11, where she was a 6-2 6-3 winner over Erina Bektas, 6-2 6-3.

Italian qualifier Sara Errani, who was a finalist at Roland Garros in 2012 and lost to Maria Sharapova, moved into the 2nd round by beating Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, 6-3 6-2, on Tuesday evening.

Errani, who has been ranked as high as No 5 and is now placed at 95, will play American Emma Navarro, the No 22 seed, next.

Mayar Sherif was a straight sets winner over Yuan Yue on Tuesday

© Clive Mason/Getty Images

n other Tuesday results, Egypt’s Mayar Sherif beat Yuan Yue from China, 6-1 6-3; while Anna Blinkova of Russia scraped past Romanian Sorana Cirstea, 6-3 3-6 7-6(5); another Russian, Elina Avanesyan defeated China’s Zhu Lin, 6-2 6-3; and German Tamara Korpatsch went the full distance against American Ashlyn Krueger, winning 4-6 6-4 7-6(11).



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