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Rising star Boulter showing promise despite loss to Osaka

Learning curve: Britain’s Katie Boulter in action yesterday during her second round loss to Japan’s Naomi Osaka
Learning curve: Britain’s Katie Boulter in action yesterday during her second round loss to Japan’s Naomi Osaka

By Andy Veal

Katie Boulter will leave Wimbledon feeling like she is not too far away from the game's elite after pushing 18th seed Naomi Osaka in the second round.

The pair's meeting in Birmingham two weeks ago lasted just 46 minutes, with Osaka sweeping Boulter aside for the loss of only three games.

But the 21-year-old from Leicestershire, who secured her first grand slam victory on Tuesday, showed significant improvement from that match to give one of the sport's brightest rising stars a decent test.

The 6-3 6-4 defeat caps off a grass-court campaign that has seen Boulter defeat three top-100 players and former US Open champion Sam Stosur. She will climb to around 111 in the world rankings a week on Monday.

Boulter was most pleased with the improvements she has made since Birmingham, saying of that match: "It really showed me where I need to be, what I need to do to get there. It's a very clear thing for me and my team to see someone like that, to play against someone of that calibre. It's very inspiring to be two weeks later much closer to her, actually feeling like I'm in the match, having a chance to win.

"She hits the ball really fast, takes time away from you. I think I needed to move quicker and be behind the ball. That's what I'm going to be focusing on going forward. I'm looking forward to having many more matches against people like that."

Boulter was given a wild card for the second successive year and won a grand slam match for the first time in the opening round against Veronica Cepede Royg.

She has relished the experience, saying: "I think it's been spectacular.

"It's something I've always dreamed of. It's exciting to be in this situation, and to be able to compete with a top-20 player is something I've imagined myself doing. Now I'm actually doing it. I hope I can replicate these tournaments over and over."

Eugenie Bouchard insists she is "here to stay" and is fighting to revive her career despite bowing out of Wimbledon in the second round.

Bouchard lost the battle of the former junior champions 6-4 7-5 to Ashleigh Barty as her struggles to return to her early-career highs continued.

The 24-year-old Canadian, who had to come through qualifying to make the main draw, was a women's singles finalist at Wimbledon four years ago.

But she has suffered an alarming slump since and is currently ranked 188th on the women's tour.

However, after coming back from a recent abdominal injury, Bouchard is refusing to be written off.

"It's the middle of my career maybe, I don't know how to define it.

"It's definitely not nearly the end of it which some people think it is. I am here to stay, like it or not.

"I don't really care about outside noise. Obviously sometimes there is no way to avoid it, but I am doing it for myself, I love tennis, I love competing and I have proved to myself that I can get back on the right track," she admitted.

Belfast Telegraph


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