San Diego | Boulter upsets Haddad Maia to reach first WTA 500 quarter-final

Britain’s Katie Boulter came from a set down to upset 2nd-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia and claim a slot in the Last 8 at the WTA 500 Cymbiotika San Diego Open, while top seed Jessica Pegula and Marta Kostyuk, the 6th seed, also advanced with straight set wins on Wednesday.

... Andy Murray is Andy Murray, isn't he? He’s the biggest fighter, the biggest lover of tennis, you know his attributes. I could go on for a very long time. He’s inspired a lot of players, especially in our country, definitely myself. I just love seeing him out there. Katie Boulter

Boulter battled back to reach her first WTA 500 quarter-final after a 2 hour 21 minutes contest with Haddad Maia, who was attempting to reach the Last 8 for the second year in a row.

The British No 1 lost 11 points in a row as the Brazilian took the first set, but then managed to recover to win the 2nd-round match, 3-6 6-3 6-4.

The 27-year old, who is ranked 49, held 3 break points midway through the first set, only for the World No 13 to fight back and grasp her only break point chance of the opener.

The roles, though, were reversed in the second set, as Boulter claimed the only break before racing into a 5-1 lead in the decider.

Although Haddad Maia, a tricky left-hander, broke back and cut the deficit down to a single game, Boulter made no mistake serving for the match for a second time to seal her well-earned quarter-final spot.

The Brit beat Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, 6-3 6-1, in her opening match on Monday, clinching 6 of the 8 break point opportunities she carved out at Barnes Stadium.

Boulter also reached the Last 16 of her previous tournament in Linz earlier this month, including a straight-sets win over Italy’s Jasmine Paolini, the newly-minted Dubai champion.

This latest result is Boulter’s second Top 20 win of the season, having defeated Pegula at the United Cup in January.

Boulter next will play either Croatia’s Donna Vekic, the runner-up in 2022, or Canada’s Marina Stakusic in the Last 8 on Friday.

Later, Boulter addressed the current speculation over former World No 1 Andy Murray’s retirement, who has said that has no plans of playing past this summer.

“I mean, I’m likely not going to play past this summer,” Murray said after his 2nd-round exit at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

“Yeah, I mean Andy Murray is Andy Murray, isn’t he? He’s the biggest fighter, the biggest lover of tennis, you know his attributes,” Boulter told the media. “I could go on for a very long time.

“He’s inspired a lot of players, especially in our country, definitely myself. I just love seeing him out there.”

Boulter added that Murray should keep going as long as he is enjoying being out there, and retirement should come on the 36-year old’s own terms.

“Even the fact that he’s out there now and he’s still going. I think, as long as he’s enjoying himself and getting what he wants out of the sport, that’s the most important thing,” Boulter said. “When he retires, I think that’s on his terms, and what he really wants to do, but I can speak for a lot of people when they say they’ve loved watching him play… I certainly have.”

Top seed Jessica Pegula opened her campaign with a straight sets win over qualifier Jule Niemeier in San Diego

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Pegula, the American World No 5, made a winning return to competition by easing past German qualifier Jule Niemeier, 6-0 6-4, in the Round of 16 after receiving a 1st-round bye.

Pegula will face either Russia’s Anna Blinkova or Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine for a place in her first semi-final of the season.

Playing her first match since an early 2nd-round exit at the Australian Open in January, Pegula lost just 9 points in the first set, and built a 6-0, 5-1 lead, before Niemeier began to find her range.

The German, ranked 126, powered through the next 3 games to close the gap, but the top seed finally scored the win after 64 minutes, finishing it in some style with an outstanding backhand pass.

“I haven’t played a tournament since Australian Open, so I knew I was going to be a little nervous and things were going to be weird,” Pegula said in her post-match press conference. “But then I came out playing really well. I don’t think she was playing her best, but I came out really strong.

“I know she’s the type of player who can make some really good shots, she has a lot of power and she’s super crafty. I knew if I gave her a chance she was going to try and make a run there at the end, which she did.

“I’m lucky that I’m standing here talking to you guys, and not battling it out at the end of the second set.”

Marta Kostyuk felt she was playing a mirror image of herself when she beat 18-year old Taylah Preston to advance to the Last 8

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Marta Kostyuk continues to build on the form that saw her reach her first major quarter-final last month at the Australian Open.

The 6th seed from Ukraine knocked off the last remaining wild-card by beating 18-year old Taylah Preston of Australia, 6-4 6-3.

For 21-year old Kostyuk, it was almost like facing a mirror image of herself.

“I was playing her for the very first time. She’s still very young. She reminds me a little bit of me,” said Kostyuk, who finished with 25 winners to 17 unforced errors, including 9 double-faults. “I knew I had to fight and grind. It was very close.”

Preston, who notched her first tour-level main-draw singles win in the opening round against Poland’s Magdalena Frech, impressed with her natural power and clean groundstrokes.

The Aussie has jumped from No 819 to 153 in just one year, and will reach yet another career high when the updated WTA rankings are released on Monday.

Qualifier Daria Saville needed over 3 hours and 3 sets to figure out how to defeat veteran slice-and-dice artist, Tatjana Maria, on Wednesday in San Diego

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Another Australian, qualifier Daria Saville, scored the most notable win of the day, saving a match point to overcome Germany’s Tatjana Maria in a dramatic 3-hour, 14-minute marathon, 5-7 7-6(2) 6-2.

Serving to stay in the match at 4-5, 30-40 in the second set, Saville hammered a crosscourt forehand winner to keep her hopes alive, and eventually forced a third set in a tiebreak.

“There was no comfort ever, at all,” admitted the 29-year old Saville, who avenged a quarter-final loss to Maria in Barranquilla in 2023. “I think, I kind, of experienced today, tonight, probably what I do to players.

“It was a fun match – only because I won in the end. But it was a tough battle.”

The 47th-ranked Maria’s unconventional slice-and-dice game repeatedly left Saville scrambling for answers, but the 36-year-old German managed to convert just 6 of her 23 break-point opportunities in taking the loss.

“I needed two hours to adjust, three hours,” said Saville about facing her crafty veteran opponent. “I think I’m going to have to readjust tomorrow, hitting with someone who hits with spin.

“I hit a lot of balls today. It’s going to be really important for me to do the right recovery and get ready for the next round.”

The win marked the 4th win of the week for Saville, including the qualifying rounds, as she advances to her first WTA 500 quarter-final since 2022.

Saville will face either No 3 seed Emma Navarro from America or Czech Katerina Siniakova, who play on Thursday.



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