Illness ends Katie Boulter’s bid in Birmingham

Katie Boulter’s winning run came to a premature end in Birmingham, with the British number one retiring through illness after the first set of her opening match against Anhelina Kalinina.

Boulter successfully retained her Rothesay Open title in Nottingham on Sunday but admitted after battling through two matches in one day because of bad weather that she was not feeling well.

She nevertheless headed to Edgbaston Priory but the 27-year-old struggled from the start against Ukrainian Kalinina and called the trainer and the doctor trailing 5-2.

Katie Boulter hits a forehand
Katie Boulter hits a forehand (Mike Egerton/PA)

Boulter had her temperature and blood pressure taken and took some paracetamol before carrying on but, after losing the set 6-3, she shook her head and called it a day.

“I’m fine,” said a hoarse Boulter, who has been battling a cold for the last week.

“Obviously a long 10 days. I wanted to come up here anyway, I wanted to try, but I’m just not quite ready yet. I was quite sick during Nottingham but I just tried to stay in the tournament as long as I possibly could, as bad as I was feeling.

“From my third match I was really struggling. But I just tried to get through it and finish the week. It’s probably a little bit of a combination of everything.”

Chief among Boulter’s motivations was the chance to secure a Wimbledon seeding, and she is now at risk of dropping out of the top 32 at the crucial moment.

“It’s not the be all and end all but it was a chance for me to try and get seeded there,” said Boulter, who is still planning to play Eastbourne next week.

“At the end of the day, I’m going to play the person that I draw and I’m going to focus on that. I do work hard to get my ranking up as much as possible but, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

The only British woman to make it through to the second round was Harriet Dart.

A quarter-finalist here last year, she began her campaign in confident fashion, winning 6-3 6-3 against Japanese qualifier Moyuka Uchijima, but there was a heartbreaking defeat for Heather Watson.

Harriet Dart hits a serve
Harriet Dart is the only British player to reach round two (Mike Egerton/PA)

The 32-year-old, who also needed medical treatment, led Czech eighth seed Marie Bouzkova 5-2 in the deciding set only to lose five straight games and fall to a 3-6 6-4 7-5 loss after nearly three hours.

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki was playing her first tour-level match on grass since 2019 but made a swift exit, beaten 6-4 6-1 by Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

It was a rematch of the Australian Open semi-final in 2018, where Wozniacki went on to win her only grand slam title before retiring two years later and having two children.

The Dane returned to the sport last summer and is hoping to be awarded a Wimbledon wild card on Wednesday.

Caroline Wozniacki gets down low for a backhand
Caroline Wozniacki was beaten by Elise Mertens (Mike Egerton/PA)

Britain’s Amelia Rajecki, 22, qualified for her first WTA Tour event and made a good start against Diana Shnaider before the Russian fought back to win 7-5 6-3.

Dart will next face second seed Barbora Krejcikova, who was a 6-1 7-6 (5) winner over Australian Daria Saville.

Meanwhile, at the ecotrans Ladies Open in Berlin, Naomi Osaka was beaten 6-4 3-6 6-3 by Australian Open runner-up Zheng Qinwen.

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