Katie Boulter earned her first WTA main draw victory as five British hopefuls progressed into the second round of the Nature Valley Nottingham Open.
Boulter defeated former US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 6-4, hitting a remarkable nine aces in the Nottinghamshire sun. Boulter will take on fellow wild card Sam Stosur in the next round, who benefited from an early retirement from Zarina Diyas. There were also victories for Jo Konta, Heather Watson, Dan Evans and James Ward in an extremely successful day for British tennis.
British number one Jo Konta needed just over an hour to see off Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-3. After starting later than planned, following some lengthy matches on Centre Court, Konta raced through the opening set. The Brit looked confident on the grass and, after saving her only two break points on her opening service game of the second set, breezed through to the next round.
Konta’s victory sets up a clash with fellow Briton Heather Watson, who looked confident in a 6-1 6-3 victory over qualifier Danielle Lao. After a disappointing early exit at the Surbiton Trophy last week, all eyes were on the British number two as she looked to kickstart her season. It didn’t take long for Watson’s impressive grass court game to shine through, as she took a 5-0 lead, before taking the opening set in just 28 minutes. The second set was tighter, but Watson dug deep to make it into the second round.
Gabriella Taylor was agonisingly close to knocking out defending champion Donna Vekic, losing 7-5 5-7 7-6, whilst qualifier Katie Swan was also marginally defeated by Mona Barthel 7-6 7-5.
Dan Evans and James Ward continue to lead British charge
Despite their drop in rankings, Dan Evans and James Ward showed us what British fans have been missing as they both won to join Alex Ward in the second round.
Making the main draw following an excellent run to the semi-finals in Surbiton last week, Dan Evans continued where he left off by easing past Dominik Koepfer 6-3 7-5. Evans only faced one break point on serve, which he saved, and won an impressive 80% of his first service points.
James Ward had a tougher time against qualifier Tobias Simon. The Londoner needed well over two hours to overcome his German opponent, eventually coming through 6-4 6-7 7-6, despite Simon serving a staggering 34 (THIRTY-FOUR) aces.
In the next round, Evans will face Sergiy Stakhovsky whilst Ward takes on Marc Polmans.
Earlier in the day, there were disappointing defeats for top seed Cameron Norrie and Jay Clarke. Norrie was surprised by Tatsuma Ito, ranked 164 in the world, 1-6 7-5 6-3, whilst Clarke was defeated by the experienced Tobias Kamke 6-3 6-3.
Image courtesy of Peter Menzel