Katie Swan believes she is playing the best tennis of her life after a memorable week at the LTA’s Lexus Surbiton Trophy ended in a battling defeat in the final against Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
The Bristol star, who is supported by the LTA’s Pro Access Programme and a recent graduate of the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, had the opportunity to become British No.1 if she won in south-west London but Wickmayer, the former world No.12, showed immense heart to fight back from a set down and take the title with a marathon 2-6 6-4 7-6 (1) victory.
But Swan, 24, can hold her head up high after delivering a sensational set of displays in Surbiton, including a quarter-final win over tricky German Tatjana Maria that made her only the third British woman to upset the top seed in the tournament’s history.
The British No.5 will return to action on Monday at the LTA’s Rothesay Open Nottingham and hopes competing in her maiden W100 final can lay the foundations for an exciting season ahead.
“I think it is the best I have ever been playing – this is my biggest final to date so I would definitely say I am in a good place,” she said.
“I feel like physically, I am in the best place I have ever been so for me that gives me real confidence in each match knowing that physically I am really strong.
“I am really happy with where I am.
“There are three more tournaments before Wimbledon so I will be focusing on those first, but obviously Wimbledon is an exciting time of year.
“I am looking forward to that too.
“When I was getting tired, I really felt the crowd trying to lift me up so I really appreciate that.
“It is also so hot for everyone, so I am really appreciative of the support I have had and I have been able to have friends and family here as well which is really nice.”
The clash was played in stifling heat in the capital and lasted a gruelling two hours and 37 minutes, with Swan winning a series of lengthy games to lead 6-2 3-1 in the second set.
She was up a break again at 2-0 in the decider but from three-all in the second and third sets, the Belgian surged ahead.
But Swan fought valiantly to stay in it, saving one match point on the Belgian’s serve at 5-3 to force the tie-break, where Wickmayer eventually prevailed.
Swan may have suffered defeat but it has still been a sensational week for British women at the grass court season curtain-raiser.
First, four Brits made the quarter-finals of the women’s singles for the first time since 2017 – a joint record – but that was only the start.
On Friday, three British stars – Swan, Katie Boulter and Lily Miyazaki – cemented their place in the semi-finals of the women’s tournament for the first time ever.
Victory for Swan and compatriot Andy Murray in both of Sunday’s finals would have been the first time both the men’s and women’s singles were won by British players in 46 years.
But Swan did not let the disappointment of defeat stop her from praising the achievement of her Belgian opponent, who returned to competition following the birth of her child.
She added: “She is in unbelievable shape, I don’t know how she can be that good after having a baby.
“It is the same with Tatjana Maria, both of them have kids and I think it is amazing what they are doing.
“I felt that as soon as I dropped my level slightly she was just all over me.
“I really had to try and maintain that for as long as I could.
“I would say I didn’t have many real chances, it was a really tough end to the match, but I think it was played at a really high level.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website