Katie Boulter’s Wimbledon campaign may have come to a close, but a career-best grass court season has provided the perfect platform for the remainder of 2023.
Leicester’s Boulter, who is a recent graduate of the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, had fought her way against two tough opening contests to set up a third round meeting against third seed Rybakina.
After triumphing at SW19 12 months ago Rybakina has become one of tennis’ dominant forces, with a run to the Australian Open final and titles in Indian Wells and Rome among her 2023 highlights.
And on Saturday the reigning champion oozed class in a late-night Centre Court encounter, dictating play from the outset with her smooth ball striking, rarely giving Boulter the opportunity to play as she wished.
The Kazakh ultimately triumphed 6-1 6-1 in 57 minutes, delivering the kind of display that has cemented her as one of the heavy favourites to win again this year.
“Obviously, it was a really tough match against a tough competitor. I gave it my best, I wouldn’t say I really felt like I got into the match fully,” said Boulter.
“She’s clearly the defending champion for a reason, and I learnt a lot and that’s what I’m going to have to take from the match.
“It felt like I got into it a little bit at times and I started to pick up her ball but she was relentless at the end of the day. She was the much better player.
“I will always reflect back on something positive. I think the crowd were incredible. Going out there, every single point they’re behind me and I felt them at all times. I wanted to give them a bit more today, but unfortunately I couldn’t do that – but I appreciated them every single second I was out there.”
Despite defeat it has undoubtedly been a hugely positive grass court season for the 26-year-old.
She matched her run to the third round of Wimbledon a year ago, and also reached the semi-final of the LTA’s Lexus Surbiton Trophy – and won her first WTA title at the LTA’s Rothesay Open Nottingham.
Boulter will sit just outside the top 70 when the rankings update post-tournament – a new career high – and that will provide a strong platform for potential success in the future.
She added: “I’ve had some seriously positive weeks. I’ve come off the back of five long weeks with no injuries, no issues. They’re the things I’m going to be focusing on and really pushing forward on the rest of the year.
“I’ve got a great rest of the year ahead of me. I’ve got virtually not many points to defend, it’s a really good opportunity for me to keep pushing my ranking up and really make a statement and play many more matches like today – they’re the matches that I want to be playing.
“I want to compete against the best in the world, and I’m going to have to do that week in, week out. Some days you play well; some days you don’t. Some days they go your way.
“The more matches I play like that, the more confidence and the more information I’ll get about myself and I can try and improve myself.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website