Katie Boulter will take on Jodie Burrage in the final of The Progress Tour Women’s Championships after both women won their semi-finals in straight sets.
The older Brit, 23, beat close friend Freya Christie 6-3 7-6(5), while the younger Brit, 21, defeated Alicia Barnett 6-4 6-2.
Tomorrow’s final will be the second clash between Boulter and Burrage during the tournament after they faced each other in the last match of the Anne Keothavong Group. On that occasion, the older Brit won 6-3 7-6(5).
Boulter halts Christie chargeEmbed from Getty Images
Katie Boulter held off a spirited second-set revival from Freya Christie to book her place in the final of The Progress Tour Women’s Championships with a 6-3 7-6(5) win.
The Brit, 23, has looked sharper as the week has gone on and she seemed in complete control in the early stages as she quickly established a 4-2 lead.
Her younger opponent, 22, tried to keep the set going as long as possible during a protracted ninth game on her serve. However, Boulter eventually broke through to clinch the set.
Christie responded by stepping up her aggression. She almost broke her more experienced opponent in the first game of the set, only for Boulter to cling on to her serve. However, the younger Brit got her reward in game three when the World No.374 netted a backhand.
For the next few games, Boulter struggled to make an impression on the Christie serve as she sought to break back, and the score moved along to 4-3 in the younger player’s favour.
However, the more experienced Brit put her opponent’s serve under serious pressure in game eight and then eventually broke in game ten to level the set at 5-5.
In the end, a tie-break was required to settle it, and Christie made an excellent start. She hit two huge forehand winners and then produced a superb backhand down the line to open up a 4-2 lead.
However, Boulter used her experience to turn it around. She hit a very deep return to gain a mini-break and then sent an unstoppable ace down the middle to level the score.
At 5-5, Christie made the fatal mistake. She hit a forehand long and gave Boulter a match point on her serve. And the more experienced Brit pushed her opponent back behind the baseline to induce an error which sealed her victory.
Boulter criticises her performanceEmbed from Getty Images
“I don’t think it was our best level,” Boulter said in her post-match interview. “I think I’m going to have to up my game tomorrow because that wasn’t very good. But I got the win so that’s all that counts.”
“I’ll take any win that I can right now. I need to look after my body for tomorrow. I felt it out there after yesterday so hopefully I can pick it up and bring some game to the final.”
The Brit continued, “My competitive spirit (is what has pleased me the most this week). I’ve kept going and I’ve been working hard even on the bad days so I’m going to put everything on the line tomorrow and hopefully just enjoy it.”
Boulter ended on a positive note. She said, “I’ve missed tennis so much. To have such a long period out was pretty tough to take but I’m really glad that we’re all back now and we can have fantastic events like this.”
Burrage vanquishes BarnettEmbed from Getty Images
Jodie Burrage beat Alicia Barnett 6-4 6-2 to advance to the final of The Progress Tour Women’s Championships.
However, score lines can be deceptive in tennis and, while this one makes it look like an easy win for the Brit, the reality is that it was anything but that.
For eight games of the first set, it was a relentless baseline battle which neither player looked like winning. Then, at 4-4, Barnett allowed Burrage to gain two break points and the younger Brit seized the second one with a brilliant cross-court backhand.
After Burrage held comfortably to clinch the first set, she made an excellent start to the second. The Brit, 21, consistently hammered the ball hard and deep and Barnett could not cope with the relentless assault.
Consequently, Burrage forged into a 3-0 lead. However, her hopes of an easier set were soon dashed when Barnett earned a break and then clung onto her serve despite facing four break points to reduce her arrears to 3-2.
Thankfully for the younger Brit, that was the end of the World No.561’s resistance. Burrage held comfortably and then fought her way to a break to make it 5-2.
That meant the younger Brit just needed to hold serve to seal her place in the final. She did it with relative ease and hit a crisp backhand winner to finish it off.
“I’m feeling it now,” Burrage said in her on-court interview. “(All that tennis) is catching up to me. But I’m so happy to be in the final. Third final, third tournament back – I can’t really complain about how I feel right now.”
“(Today) was quite frustrating at times. I don’t think that’s my best tennis of the week. Barnett gets a lot of balls back and that’s what I was getting frustrated with. I didn’t quite hit my shots with the power that I did yesterday.”
Burrage also reflected on the effects of playing so many matches recently. She said, “My body is ok-ish. I think I’m finding it harder mentally to just push through, but now I know I’ve got one more day it should be easier.”
“I’ve been surprised with myself because in the past years I wouldn’t have been able to do this. But it’s something I’ve really been trying to improve and I’m just glad that’s paying off now.”