A dream week for home favorites at the Rothesay International Nottingham got even better on Saturday as Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage set up the first all-British final on the Hologic WTA Tour for the first time in 46 years.
In the first all-British Hologic WTA Tour semifinal since 1975, Boulter downed Heather Watson, another Brit, in straight sets to reach her first-ever tour-level singles final, and Burrage followed with a 7-5, 7-5 win over former Top 20 Alizé Cornet in the second semifinal to match Boulter's accomplishment.
At World No.126 and No.131, respectively, Boulter and Burrage are the fifth and fourth-lowest ranked finalists at a grass-court WTA event since 1985. In the last all-British final in 1977, Sue Barker beat Virginia Wade in San Francisco.
Boulter downs Watson in all-British semifinal
Boulter had been 0-4 in WTA quarterfinals in her career prior to a 6-3, 7-5 win over another Brit, Harriet Dart, on Friday, and continued her imperious form with a 6-4, 7-5 win against Watson for her fourth straight-sets win in as many matches this week.
"It means so much to me, especially here," Boulter, a wildcard this week, said. "I just tried to put my heart on the line, and I managed to get through it in the end.
"She's an incredible player and I knew it was going to be a brutal match. She's an amazing girl and she deserved it just as much as I did, so it was so nice to see us out here playing semis.
"I've worked so hard for this, me and my team especially. I'm going to just keep plugging away. Even if it isn't my moment, it's been a great week for me, and I'm just going to keep working hard."
Turning point: After winning the last three games of the first set, Boulter trailed 4-1 in the second set. In that game, she saved four break points that would've given Watson a 5-1 lead, and eventually won three games in a row to even the set.
She also won the last three games of the match, hitting 28 winners in all over the course of 1 hour and 55 minutes of player. The match was delayed for an hour due to rain with Boulter ahead 3-2 in the first set.
Burrage beats Cornet in second semifinal
Meanwhile, Burrage had a harder road to her own first career final, needing three sets and 3 hours to knock out Tereza Martincova in Round 1, and also a decider to beat Magdalenda Frech in the quarterfinals.
In between, she knocked out No.3 seed and Australian Open semifinalist Magda Linette, and earned her fourth win in as many matches this week against a player ranked above her with a 1 hour, 44-minute victory over Cornet.
How the match was won: Burrage came from an early break down in the first set, and won the last three games. The second set began with five straight breaks of serve, and Burrage lost a 4-2 lead before she again won the last three games of the match.
To seal victory, the Brit surged to 12 of the last 14 points.
HER FIRST WTA TOUR-LEVEL FINAL 🔓🤗@jodieburrage sends her home crowd into a frenzy by defeating Cornet, 7-5, 7-5 to set up an all-British final against Boulter! #RothesayOpen pic.twitter.com/gA1V8jHLxS— wta (@WTA) June 17, 2023
"I wasn't expecting this coming into this week, not going to lie, but I'm very happy with my performance today," Burrage said. "I'm feeling it physically a lot, and Alizé is not an easy opponent to put away, as shown at the end there.
"I was saying to myself at the end there ... 'Jodie, you're winning this in two sets. You're not playing three. I don't have that in me.' Maybe I should say that to myself more often."
Scouting the final: Boulter is 2-0 in her career against her fellow Brit Burrage. With a Top 100 return and debut assured for both Boulter and Burrage, respectively, should she win on Sunday, both are soaking it all in.
"It's going to be an amazing day tomorrow," Burrage said. "We played a final at the start of this year, and she won, so hopefully I can try and change that this time.
"What an amazing tournament for both of us, and for all the women this week. I think it will be a really fun day tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to it."