Katie Boulter beat 2021 Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
She beat the world No. 7 in three sets, 3-6 7-6(4) 6-4, on Centre Court on Thursday afternoon, and her performance – that has set up a tie with Harmony Tan – has been praised by Mats Wilander and Laura Robson, who spoke on Eurosport after the match.
“Yeah, absolutely incredible,” Wilander said. “I have to say that I have seen her play a few years back. I thought she was more than 24 years old, to be honest, but she has a big game and she’s still very young.
“Because she has been injured for a couple of years, I think the future is very bright for her.
“If you now can beat Karolina Pliskova two weeks in a row, you feel that home on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, going through what she is going through right now with her grandmother passing away, who knows how far she can go.”
Boulter beat Pliskova in similar fashion at the Eastbourne International in the run-up to Wimbledon, and Wilander believes that could have been advantageous for the Brit.
“I’m sure that popped up in her head,” he said. “Everybody finds different reasons to believe that you have a chance to win a match, but obviously, when it is as fresh a memory as it was for Katie Boulter, yes, you’re going to use that to your advantage and never think it’s too late.”
Wilander also said Boulter’s movement was “key” to her success on court, and insisted that Thursday’s win could see the 25-year-old go further in the tournament.
“Yes, that was the key, and she moved very well for a tall player as well. She has good power from both sides, but that’s the difference, I think. The energy, the attitude, being out there on Centre Court – obviously, she was using the experience she had last year playing against Aryna Sabalenka, but she didn’t win that match. Now, she beats somebody that is at the top of the game and was the finalist last year. So, who knows? The draw is going to open up for her now.
“With a game like that – she serves well, she hits the ball well, she moved well – and now she’s going to be the crowd favourite big-time out there. I think that can really help, depending on who you’re playing. But against most players, you do not want to play a player who has the whole of the home crowd with them.”
Fellow Brit Robson admitted she was “buzzing” to see Katie cause two upsets against a player of Pliskova’s quality in a matter of weeks, and progress to the third round of the Championships for the first time.
“I’m buzzing for Katie,” she said. “I mean, this sort of win has been on the cards for a while, and she beat Pliskova last week in Eastbourne, so a lot of us thought that there was a potential upset for today.
“But to close it out the way that she did, and in the final game, make only first serves, finishing it with a volley and playing such positive tennis towards the end of the match when I think a lot of people would’ve been really nervous trying to close out a match on Centre Court as a British player, and Katie just thrived in the environment.
“So, I’m pumped for her, I was emotional at the end, as I think many, many people were in the crowd.”
Boulter has impressed on grass in recent weeks and Robson thinks her happiness off court and “positive mindset” has been a factor.
“The key, I think, for Katie is just how happy she is off-court at the moment, you know.
“Any tournament where her granddad comes, she always seems to play better, so he’s been at all the grass events so far this year and I think she just has been able to keep such a positive mindset because she’s always kept the same team around her for so many years now – she’s had the same coach and has a great relationship with all the support staff at the LTA and they keep everyone positive.
“I mean, it’s not easy week after week, and mixing between Challengers and WTA tournaments. So, when you get to Wimbledon, it’s just all a good experience.”
Robson revealed her communication with Boulter after the match, and aired her congratulations for her fellow Brit.
“Yeah, I sent her a message straight after, just saying how proud I was, and I know what she’s been through over the last couple of months with her injuries as well,” Robson admitted.
“She didn’t play from Indian Wells all the way through to Nottingham because of a stress fracture in her foot. It’s almost felt for the last couple of years that with Katie, every time she gets a good run going, another injury pops up and she has to take a break.
“So, just to have this run, even though there are no ranking points, it almost doesn’t matter, does it because this is the confidence that’s going to take her through to the rest of the year. So I just said ‘really proud of you, hope you’re having an amazing day’, as I’m sure she is, and I’m sure I’ll see her in the next couple of hours.”
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