Britain’s Katie Boulter says she has already surpassed her expectations with a superb run at the Viking Open in Nottingham.
The 24-year-old continued her road back from a serious back injury with victory against world No 52 Marie Bouzkova 6-4 6-3.
Boulter had surged into the top 100 before suffering a spinal stress fracture that kept her out of top-level tournament tennis for the best part of a year, with coronavirus then delaying her comeback even further.
After a stop-start 2021, Boulter is happy with her progress.
“I had absolutely no expectations going into this week, but I also know the level I have been putting into the practice court day in day out, I have been working super hard,” said Boulter.
“I have been putting in the effort and I really feel it will pay off. This week is a start, I have got a long way to go yet but it is a good result today.”
Boulter, born in nearby Leicester, considers this her home tournament and would normally stay with her family at this event.
However, the pandemic means she must stay in the bubble and not even leave her hotel.
“Of course it is going to be difficult,” she said. “But I fully understand why the measures are in place, there are bigger things going on in the world right now.
“For me it is pretty hard being back at my home tournament. But it is a privilege to have my parents and grandparents in the stand. So to even have that support means so much to be, and I am super lucky even to have that.
“It just goes to show how far we have gone in the last year, if not longer. It has been a really, really tough time for a lot of people.
“Also my family, I have hardly seen them. I am pretty sure the last time my grandparents watched me live was (at the) Copper Box a couple of years ago (in April 2019).
“So for them it is huge and it is a long time ago, it really makes the difference. I am super lucky to have them here by my side to help me win matches.”
Johanna Konta made it through to the quarter-finals.
The British No 1 had to fight hard to beat Kateryna Kozlova in three sets, winning 6-2 1-6 6-3 on the grass.
The top seed, a two-time runner-up, will now play Alison Van Uytvanck in the last eight.
Evans finding life in tournament bubble a struggle
British men’s No 1 Dan Evans says life in a tournament bubble is no more fun in this country than when he is abroad.
Evans was allowed one hour’s walk a day at the French Open and he took full advantage, but he is not even allowed that in Nottingham.
“It was great, you definitely take it for granted, sitting in a hotel room is not the normal life,” he said.
“It’s pretty nice to go for a walk by the Eiffel Tower for an hour. It was good but it is a little different here. Some interesting thoughts on standing outside the door of the hotel.”
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