For the second time in as many weeks at home, Britain’s Katie Boulter bounced back from a set down to beat Karolina Pliskova. Nine days after knocking out the Czech from Rothesay International Eastbourne in the second round, Boulter repeated the feat on center court at Wimbledon, with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over the 2021 runner-up and No.6 seed putting her in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
“It’s easy to say I believe I can win this game. But coming out and doing it a week before that makes the difference,” Boulter told reporters after the game. “I think that’s also why when I played a first set OK [and] she resumed her game a lot, I had the impression of having experienced that last week. I just needed to stick with her and stay on serve, especially in the second set. Did it again at Eastbourne. I managed to have a chance.
I feel like I have that chance again today.”
Return completed: Boulter lost six of seven games to make the first set 2-0 up. Although she led twice by a break in the second set, she eventually had to go through a second set tie-break to take the match from distance. She won the first four points, then three of the last four.
In all, the two players combined for 13 straight service catches from the middle of the second set until the decider; the first player to reach breaking point in that streak was Boulter, and she duly converted the second chance given to her at 4-4.
She also wrapped up the hour and 57 minute match in style. At 30-30, she hit a game-winning forehand and finished things off with a classy volley at net.
“I expect a player of this caliber to come back with better tennis,” Boulter said. “I think I started really well and kind of gave my advantage in one of the games. So I was a bit frustrated with that. From then on she picked up her game. and its momentum.
“She’s a very aggressive player. For me, I have to stay very strong because I also know she’s going to come in waves. She’s clearly been able to set it up many, many times, that’s why she made the final here before.
“The best I can do is stay strong and hope to take the opportunity. Finally I got it today.”
A return to center court: Boulter’s second career Top 10 victory – both against Pliskova – might have exorcised some demons from her last appearance on center court. Last year, on the biggest stage at Wimbledon, Boulter led second seed and eventual semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka by one set before falling in three sets.
While the match itself was emotional, so were the aftermath. In her on-pitch interview, the 25-year-old from Leicester dedicated the victory to her grandmother, Jill, who died earlier this week.
“He’s still someone who’s been in tennis from the first step,” Boulter said. “She lives just down the road from the tennis club. This is the tennis club I started playing tennis at. Leicestershire is very close to my heart. I spent a lot of time on the courts there with my grandparents and my family.
“Her favorite tournament was Wimbledon. That’s why it’s a special tournament for me. Yeah, she watched every game on TV.”
Fly the flag: A day after the women’s draw lost Britain’s No. 1 Emma Raducanu, Boulter joined Heather Watson in round 3. Watson completed a 7-5, 6-4 win over China’s Wang Qiang earlier Thursday, a game that was suspended late Wednesday due to darkness. Boulter will face Harmony Tan, Serena Williams First Round Winner, next; the Frenchwoman continued her opening stunner with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 32 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo.
“I actually watched her match against Serena,” Boulter said. “She makes it really tough. There’s a reason she beat some really good players this week. I expect nothing less than her to come out and have fun when I play her.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle. But ultimately I’m just going to go out and have fun and hopefully play some good tennis.”
Kvitova and Badosa face off in the third round at Wimbledon
Rybakina edges out Andreescu to return to Wimbledon third round
Elena Rybakina and Bianca Andreescu had contrasting preparations at Wimbledon; Rybakina went 1-2 in two grass events, with a first-round defeat last week at Eastbourne, while Andreescu reached his first Hologic WTA Tour singles final in three years in Bad Homburg. It was Rybakina, however, who got through the pair’s second-round match in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(5).
Match management: Despite only serving 50% for the match, Rybakina won 80% of the points behind her first serve; she was never broken until she led, 6-4, 2-0. In fact, neither player faced a break point in the opener until Andreescu dropped the love serve in the 10th game to take a set behind.
From 6-4, 5-3 down, Andreescu rallied and eventually forced a tiebreaker, but the former US Open winner never found enough sustained momentum to put pressure on a decision maker.
Next: Rybakina reached the fourth round a year ago in her main draw debut at Wimbledon. To equal this result 12 months later, she will have to beat China’s Zheng Qinwen. Zheng, making his own Wimbledon main draw debut, defeated Greet Minnen to reach round 3; the Belgian beat former champion and No. 9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza in the first round, but Zheng stopped her in the straight, 6-4, 6-1.
Krejcikova seals back-to-back wins for first time since Australian Open
Barbora Krejcikova’s injury-plagued 2022 season has taken a step forward at Wimbledon. With a 6-3, 6-4 win over Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, the Czech secured back-to-back wins for the first time since the Australian Open. Sidelined from February to May with an elbow injury, Krejcikova lost in the first round of her title defense at Roland Garros, and also bounced back in the first round at Eastbourne after recovering from COVID- 19.
Following her victory in Paris last year, Krejcikova lost to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Next, she will face another Australian: Ajla Tomljanovic, who was a quarter-finalist last year and also lost to Barty.