Boulter beats Raducanu in Nottingham Open semi-final

Boulter beats Raducanu in Nottingham Open semi-final

Defending champion Katie Boulter is back in the Nottingham Open final after beating Emma Raducanu in a two-day, all-British tussle.

A semi-final that began under slate-grey skies and was held overnight because of the dangers of a rain-flecked surface concluded on Sunday in sunshine – the first that has smiled down on the Rothesay Open all week.

And in the faster conditions the good weather provided, Boulter blasted her way through Raducanu, coming from a set down to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-4. The world No30’s fantastic year continues and she will face former world No1 and Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova in the final later today.

‘What a match,’ said Boulter on court afterwards. ‘She’s an incredible player, she’s only going to get better and better. She makes it so tough to close it out. I’m just happy to get through today. I’m really proud of myself.

‘I just need you guys to get me over the line in the next one.’

Katie Boulter came from a set down to beat Emma Raducanu in the Nottingham Open semis

Boulter will have the chance – for the second time this year – to win a title on the same day as her boyfriend Alex de Minaur, who won in ‘s Hertogenbosch just before this semi-final began. The Aussie – up to No7 in the world now – made a mad dash from Acapulco to San Diego in March to watch Boulter the last time they did the double. Eyes will be peeled for another surprise addition to her players box later this afternoon.

British tennis will hope this is far from the last time Raducanu and Boulter face off in the latter stages of events. This was the effectively the British duo’s first meeting – their only previous one came in a modest ITF-level event in Solapur, when a 17-year-old Raducanu retired with an injury after losing the first set.

The matchup is an interesting one: 21-year-old Raducanu has the superior backhand and moves with more speed and lightness of step; Boulter, 27, has far greater weight of shot on the forehand and serve.

There was barely the width of a racket string to separate these two in the first set on Saturday evening when, after no breaks of serve, Raducanu won a high-class tiebreak 15-13 on her sixth set point.

Play resumed in benign but windy conditions, and Raducanu especially appeared to struggle to control the ball toss on her serve at times. There were no break points until the seventh game when Boulter forced four and after saving three, Raducanu double faulted – it was the first time either player’s serve had been breached all match.

Easy power is an oft-used phrase in tennis but that is exactly what Boulter has. On a grass court especially, she just has to brush at the ball to send it flying away for a winner.

Boulter had another break point in Raducanu’s first service game of the deciding set; had her backhand drive not landed barely beyond the baseline one felt that would have been that.

There were a flurry of breaks as Boulter struggled to kill her opponent off. But when Raducanu served to stay in the match Boulter finally got the job done – appropriately finishing with a flowing backhand winner.

For Raducanu, this was still a strong week, with a couple of comfortable wins. Her decision to skip the French Open qualifying event was a controversial one but her form her suggests the time on the practice courts she prioritised instead was well spent. Raducanu and coach Nick Cavaday – he was courtside this weekend after missing the start of the week with illness – have abbreviated her service motion and the reworked action has looked highly effective.

All in all, a fine start to the grass court season for Britain’s leading ladies.


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