After the joy of watching a big name on the biggest stage and summoning the best version of herself when the moment called for it no less, Katie Boulter arrived for a new day on Court No 2 in one of the most harrowing situations that a player can. sail: an opportunity.
Neither Boulter nor Harmony Tan had ever reached the third round of a Grand Slam before and were only separated by three places in the ranking, 118th and 115th. They had usurped Karolina Pliskova and Serena Williams in the intense surroundings of center court, but here they were. in a match that would not have seemed out of place at a low-tier ITF event even though a Grand Slam fourth round and £190,000 were on the line.
However, in the end, Boulter never stood a chance. His breakout at Wimbledon came to a brutal end when Tan deftly blunted his weapons and exposed his weaknesses. With a tremendous performance the Frenchwoman continued her Wimbledon dream by dominating Boulter 6-1, 6-1 in 51 minutes to reach the second week of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
Boulter subsequently described herself as “emotionally drained” after her efforts both at Wimbledon and over the course of the grass-court season and had just returned from injury. She felt bad as soon as warming her up in the morning. “I went from zero to a hundred pretty quickly,” she said. “This week has probably been the turning point. I have played great games. It has also been very emotional. I think today was a step too far for me.”
The All England Club’s decision not to put their match on one of the top two courts had drawn criticism from some quarters, but even a roaring crowd of 100,000 would have done little to stop the momentum of Tan, whose level has only grown since his opening. . round win against Williams.
From the beginning, Tan was sublime. She swung the full range of hers once more, making Boulter uncomfortable as he forced her to move with dropped shots, her backhand slipping low and sweeping the net with ease. She refused to allow Boulter the same type of shot twice in a row and the British player made mistakes and hit too much as she found her rhythm while she was forced to generate all the pace with the ball.
Unlike Williams, when virtually every other forehand of hers was sliced, Tan prevailed as well. She shoved Boulter in with her right hand, threading game winners and exposing her poor movement. She threw passing shots with ease. Tan even served well, usually an obvious weakness, ending the first set with three aces in play. The constant pressure, point after point, forced Boulter to take more risks and make more errors, while Tan finished with five near-flawless unforced errors along with 16 game winners.
While Thursday’s victory over Karolina Pliskova had been a reflection of Boulter’s talent, the weapons at her disposal, this was a reminder of her limitations. Tasked with creating rhythm on the ball herself, unlike Pliskova, and solving problems against a tricky opponent who competes at a consistently high level, Boulter ran out of ideas before she finished the first set. With her spirit broken, she double faulted on match point to end a difficult day on the court.
Tan’s rise is yet another reminder of the talent that exists beyond the top 100, often just needing the right circumstances to thrive. Tan explained that despite coming from a wealthy nation, she did not have much support in her youth. She cited her coach, former player Nathalie Tauziat, as one of the few people he ever believed in her. “When I was young, they told me that I couldn’t be a good player in this game, so it was very difficult for me. I had no help and financially it was very difficult,” she said.
Prior to Wimbledon, Tan played on the grass courts of the WTA 125 event in Gaiba. The first high-level Italian grass-court event, the pitches were created on an old soccer field. There was a little problem – the ball it just didn’t bounce. Tan reached the semi-final serving and volleying, and doing his best to keep the ball from bouncing. The tournament helped refine his variety, and on Wimbledon’s pristine courts he has thrived. “I just return his serve as best I can, and play a slice, some shots, volleys, and it all worked out today,” he said. Then she smiled. “I think she doesn’t like my game.”
For Boulter, this has been a wonderful week and turf season. The removal of ranking points at Wimbledon means she will drop eight places in the rankings, but she has instilled the belief that she can fight and beat the best players in the world. She handled her emotions admirably despite learning of her grandmother’s death after their first round match. Now, her simple goal is to get herself in a position to compete on these stages regularly.
“It’s easy to say I believe, but I’ve done it for the last four weeks due to injury. Going forward, if I can use this momentum, I really feel like I’m going to be in a great place by the end of the year,” she said.