Katie Boulter to warm up for Wimbledon by playing Eastbourne

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At the beginning of the grass court season last year, question marks surrounded Katie Boulter’s career. Injuries and inconsistency at the lower-level tournaments meant that the glimpses of her considerable ball-striking talent were fleeting and she was trying hard to find her way back to the top 100.

Boulter’s surprise maiden title at the Nottingham Open last year changed everything. It proved a catalyst for her rise and she underlined her improvement a week ago by defending her Nottingham title. Her success over the past year has imbued her with the belief that she belongs among the very best tennis players in the world.

“Last year coming through Nottingham, that was a huge moment for me confidence wise,” Boulter said ahead of the Eastbourne International, the 27-year-old’s final tournament before Wimbledon. “I think I started to realise that I do truly belong at that level and then I quickly went to work and wanted to try and stay consistent throughout the whole entire season and I felt like I really did that.

“I put in such a good pre-season with a slightly newer team that I had and every time you go out onto the court and you start beating great players, that’s when you start to gain confidence. That [Jessica] Pegula win at the start of the year for me, that was a huge moment for me as well. And then I think I feel like I’ve just kind of used that momentum a lot.”

Boulter will be seeded at Wimbledon for the first time in her career as she looks for her first second-week run at a grand slam tournament. This week, she will face a qualifier in Eastbourne after recovering from an illness that forced her to retire from her opening match at Birmingham.

“You never know what’s around the corner,” Boulter said. “As we’ve seen these last few weeks with a lot of retirements, you can’t take stepping out onto the court for granted, I never, ever do. I think I have really built such a good base level with my team in terms of physically and going week-to-week and wanting to play.”

Elsewhere, Tommy Paul continued his steady, impressive growth by winning the biggest title of his career at Queen’s Club, defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-1, 7-6 (8) in the final on Sunday.

With his ATP 500 win, Paul will become the men’s US No 1 for the first time in his career, leapfrogging his close friend Taylor Fritz and returning to his career high ranking of No 12. Throughout the week, Paul has distinguished himself from the field with his smooth, improvisational all-court game, his brilliant athleticism and his willingness to take control of the rallies in the decisive moments.

It has taken the 27-year-old a while to reach this point. Unlike Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and other peers who enjoyed greater results earlier in their careers, for a period in Paul’s career he was stuck in quicksand on the ATP Challenger circuit. He had to become more professional, learn to maintain his focus and he has come to understand the importance of deciding his own destiny rather than waiting for the opponent to miss.

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While Paul is extremely calm and laid back on the court, he has not always been able to remain cold-blooded under pressure. This time, after failing to serve out a relatively straightforward win at 6-1, 5-3, Paul regrouped and saved two set points in the tiebreak before edging out a well deserved win.

Elsewhere, Jannik Sinner followed up his rise to world No 1 by winning the Halle ATP 500 event, his first grass court title. After a tough week with multiple three-set matches, Sinner defeated Hurkacz, the fifth seed, 7-6(8), 7-6(2).

A week after Boulter and Alex de Minaur won titles in the same day for the second time this year, Anna Kalinskaya came close to matching the achievement of her boyfriend, Sinner. In Berlin, a WTA 500 tournament, Kalinskaya held five match points against the world No 5 Jessica Pegula before the American recovered to clinch her first grass court title with a 6-7(0), 6-4, 7-6(3) win.

Source: theguardian.com

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