Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

Britain’s Katie Boulter belied her world ranking to secure a stunning victory against American teenager Coco Gauff as the countdown to the Australian Open continues.

Boulter, ranked down at 371 after a lengthy spell out with a back injury suffered in 2019 and playing at just her second WTA event in close to two years, defeated Gauff 3-6 7-5 6-2 in the second round of the Gippsland Trophy at Melbourne Park.

The 24-year-old began her season the day before with a dominant victory against 107th-ranked Russian Anna Kalinskaya, but had to battle hard to defeat Gauff, with the 14th-seeded 16-year-old double-faulting three times in the final game.

Fifth seed Johanna Konta defeated Bernarda Pera 6-2 6-3 in 81 minutes in the second round, with the British No 1 crucially saving three break points on her way to victory.

The American struggled with her serve throughout and double-faulted six times before being broken for match point, while Konta got into a rhythm early as she continues her recovery from a knee problem.

Meanwhile, Heather Watson said she was “not putting a lot of pressure on myself” before the Grampians Trophy, which begins on Wednesday in Melbourne. The world No 58 left hotel quarantine on Friday and told reporters she was “super excited” to begin training on actual courts but was taking a considered approach to the warm-up tournament.

“It’s obviously unusual circumstances, so I’m just, it will be interesting to see how my body is tomorrow, just see how it goes, but I’m not really putting a lot of pressure on myself for this next tournament,” she said in comments carried by Tennis Australia. “And, yeah, like I said, it’s a really unique situation, so I’ve just got to sort of play it by ear, play it day by day.”

It comes after Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the tournament to focus on the Australian Open, which marks her first WTA match in more than a year.

Dan Evans, seeded eighth in the Murray Open, will begin his campaign in Melbourne in the second round on Wednesday after he received a bye and will face Portugal’s Pedro Sousa.

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