British number four Katie Boulter roared back from almost suffering a first-set bagel to dump out last year’s Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova in the second round of the Rothesay International Eastbourne.
The 25-year-old trailed 5-0 inside half an hour to the world number seven but after she got on the board kept with the Czech before she got the Centre Court crowd off their feet on a number of occasions during a dramatic second and third set. Boulter was able to take five of her 19 break-point opportunities to secure a 1-6 6-4 6-4 win and continue her great form after she claimed a previous career-best scalp over Alison Riske in Birmingham last week.
A gutsy victory over Tereza Martincova on Sunday meant the home favourite walked out for her ninth match on grass this summer and while she faced a formidable opponent, Pliskova had admitted to not feeling 100 per cent back to her best ahead of the match. The concerns of the two-time grand-slam finalist seemed unfounded after she broke Boulter twice early on but the Brit continued to create break points and earned warm applause after avoiding a whitewash. It boosted Boulter who continued to make chances on Pliskova’s serve and eventually started to take them in the second to level up the scores. Four consecutive double-faults by the former world number one aided Boulter’s cause in the decider but she was immediately broken back to leave the set finely poised.
Having let a 4-2 lead slip, Boulter remained focused and a fine return gave her the chance to serve out the victory. A first match point was saved but after a superb cross-court winner set up a second, this one was not wasted to give Boulter the best result of her career.
“That gave me goosebumps so thank you so much,” Boulter said on-court when asked about the atmosphere at Devonshire Park. “I am super proud of myself. I went out, didn’t feel great and worked so hard to get out there. I battled and fought and to beat a player like that means so much.” Boulter’s triumph made it two from two for the British players on Centre Court after Ryan Peniston continued his brilliant few weeks with a 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-1 success over French Open quarter-finalist Holger Rune.
A close opener went the way of the teenager after he decisively broke in the 10th game, but the in-form Peniston stuck with his highly-rated rival and edged a tie-breaker to earn thunderous applause from the crowd. Rune lost his composure at the beginning of the decider when Peniston produced a wonderful return to a volley at the back of the court to take his first break point. The Dane smashed a tennis ball out of the court before he whacked his racket against a towel bin to earn himself a warning. Even though Rune did break back instantly, Peniston stayed composed and secured another break before he closed out this latest impressive result.
He said on-court: “I am very, very happy with that. Tough start but managed to fight thanks to you guys. It has been madness to be honest. A couple of weeks ago things were a lot different but now things have changed and I am loving it.”