For the second time in as many weeks on home turf, Great Britain's Katie Boulter rallied from a set down to beat Karolina Pliskova. Nine days after knocking the Czech out of the Rothesay International Eastbourne in the second round, Boulter repeated the feat on Centre Court at Wimbledon, with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 win over the 2021 finalist and No.6 seed putting her into the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time.
"It's easy to say I believe I can win this match. But to have actually gone out and done it a week before, it does make the difference," Boulter told reporters after the match. "I think that's also why when I played an OK first set [and] she picked up her game a lot, I felt like I went through that last week. I just needed to stay with her and stay on serve especially in the second set. I did that again in Eastbourne. I managed to get a chance.
I feel like I got that chance again today."
Comeback complete: Boulter lost six of seven games to drop the first set from 2-0 up. Though she led by a break twice in the second set, she ultimately needed to squeak through a second-set tiebreak to take the match the distance. She won the first four points, and then three of the last four.
In all, the two players combined for 13 consecutive holds of serve from the middle of the second set through the decider; the first player to reach break point in that stretch was Boulter, and she duly converted the second chance given to her at 4-4.
She wrapped up the 1 hour, 57-minute match in style, too. At 30-30, she hit a forehand winner and finished things off with a stylish volley at the net.
"I expect a player of that caliber to come back with better tennis," Boulter said. "I think I started really well, and I kind of gave away my advantage a little bit in one of the games. So I was a little bit frustrated with that. From then on she picked up her game and her momentum.
"She's a very aggressive player. For me, I have to stay really strong because I also know she's going to come in waves. She's clearly been able to put it together many, many times, which is why she's made final here before.
"The best I can do is staying strong and hoping for the opportunity. Eventually I got it today."
A Centre Court return: Boulter's second career Top 10 win -- both against Pliskova -- might've exorcized some demons from her last appearance on Centre Court. Last year on Wimbledon's biggest stage, Boulter led No.2 seed and eventual semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka by a set before falling in three sets.
While the match itself was emotional, the aftermath was too. In her on-court interview, the 25-year-old from Leicester dedicated the win to her grandmother, Jill, who passed away earlier this week.
"She's always someone who's been right into tennis from stage one," Boulter said. "She lives just down the road from the tennis club. That's the tennis club that I started playing tennis at. Leicestershire is very close to my heart. I've spent a lot of time on the courts there with my grandparents and my family.
"Her favorite tournament was Wimbledon. That's why it's a special one for me. Yeah, she'd watch every single match that was on the TV."
Flying the flag: A day after the women's draw lost British No.1 Emma Raducanu, Boulter joined Heather Watson in Round 3. Watson finished off a 7-5, 6-4 win over China's Wang Qiang earlier Thursday, a match that was suspended late Wednesday due to darkness. Boulter will face Harmony Tan, Serena Williams' first-round conqueror, up next; the Frenchwoman followed up her opening stunner with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No.32 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo.
"I actually watched her match against Serena," Boulter said. "She makes it very difficult. There's a reason she's beaten some really good players this week. I expect nothing less than her to go out there and enjoy herself when I play her.
"It's going to be a tough battle. But ultimately I'm just going to go out and enjoy myself and play some good tennis hopefully."
Rybakina edges Andreescu to return to Wimbledon third round
Elena Rybakina and Bianca Andreescu had contrasting lead-ups to Wimbledon; Rybakina went 1-2 in two grass-court events, with a first-round loss last week in Eastbourne, while Andreescu reached her first Hologic WTA Tour singles final in three years in Bad Homburg. It was Rybakina, though, who came through the pair's Round 2 match in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(5).
Match management: Despite only serving at 50% for the match, Rybakina won 80% of the points behind her first serve; she was also never broken until she led, 6-4, 2-0. Neither player, in fact, faced break point in the opener until Andreescu dropped serve at love in the 10th game to fall a set behind.
From 6-4, 5-3 down, Andreescu rallied and eventually forced a tiebreak, but the former US Open winner never found enough sustained momentum to make a push for a decider.
Up next: Rybakina reached the fourth round a year ago in her Wimbledon main-draw debut. To match that result 12 months on, she'll have to beat China's Zheng Qinwen. Zheng, making her own Wimbledon main-draw debut, beat Greet Minnen to reach round 3; the Belgian beat former champion and No.9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza in Round 1, but Zheng stopped her in straights, 6-4, 6-1.
Krejcikova seals back-to-back wins for first time since Australian Open
Barbora Krejcikova's injury-plagued 2022 season has taken a step forward at Wimbledon. With a 6-3, 6-4 win over Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic, the Czech sealed back-to-back wins for the first time since the Australian Open. Sidelined from February to May with an elbow injury, Krejcikova lost in the first round of her title defense at Roland Garros, and was also bounced in Round 1 in Eastbourne after recovering from COVID-19.
On the back of her win in Paris last year, Krejcikova lost to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the last 16 at Wimbledon. Up next, she'll face another Aussie: Ajla Tomljanovic, who was a quarterfinalist last year and also lost to Barty.