Katie Boulter’s winning run ends against Zhu Lin at Rothesay Classic

Katie Boulter’s winning run ends against Zhu Lin at Rothesay Classic

Katie Boulter’s winning run ended with defeat by China’s Zhu Lin in the first round of the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham.

Boulter celebrated the best achievement of her career in Nottingham on Sunday when she won her first WTA Tour title to reach a new highest ranking of 77.

It cemented her position as British number one in the absence of the injured Emma Raducanu, but Boulter was unable to back it up at Edgbaston Priory, where she made the quarter-finals last year.

The 26-year-old said: “It was obviously a tough match today. I knew coming in here that I would be on the back foot body-wise, which is a place I actually want to be because it means I’m testing myself and pushing myself having played a lot of matches.

“I didn’t want to skip a week and I’m proud of myself for going out there and I gave it absolutely everything I had.

“Unfortunately I was on the losing side today but I pick myself up and we get ready for the next few events.”

Boulter certainly had her chances against Zhu, ranked 39, but she was unable to convert enough of them in a 7-5 7-5 defeat.

Jelena Ostapenko celebrates at the Rothesay Classic
Jelena Ostapenko won at the Rothesay Classic on Tuesday (Jacob King/PA)

Boulter began well, opening up a 3-1 lead, but Zhu responded strongly and took her second set point in the 12th game.

The second set was a rollercoaster featuring seven breaks of serve and 17 break points.

Boulter was only able to take three of her 10 opportunities, though, and – after saving two match points at 4-5 – she sent a backhand long on the third, two games later.

The quick turnaround meant Boulter was not able to celebrate her big victory, the British number one saying with a smile: “I wish.

“I had a team dinner. I was actually getting treatment during that dinner. It was completely normal. I’m sure I’m going to take some time once I’ve completed all these weeks and I will have a nice team dinner again.”

The player Boulter beat in the final in Nottingham, compatriot Jodie Burrage, also fell at the first hurdle, losing out 4-6 6-2 7-5 in an all-British clash with Harriet Dart.

It was nip and tuck throughout, with Dart finally making the breakthrough at the end after Burrage, who played a series of long matches in Nottingham, rolled her right ankle.

Harriet Dart
Harriet Dart defeated compatriot Jodie Burrage (Jacob King/PA)

The 24-year-old is hopeful the injury is not serious, saying: “I’ve just been in to see the doctors and luckily the brace I was wearing saved me. I’ve done that ankle badly twice before so I think a bit of shock got me in the match.

“I didn’t want to make it worse so it hindered me a little bit. I’m sure it will be fine. I think I’m just exhausted and my emotions are a little bit all over the place.”

Dart, who has been battling tonsillitis, lost to Boulter in the quarter-finals last week before a tense exchange at the net when Dart took exception to her opponent pointing at her head.

The British women have spoken often about the friendly atmosphere between them but that appears to be being tested, with Dart and Burrage sharing nothing more than a brief handshake.

Harriet Dart (right) and Jodie Burrage shared only a brief handshake
Harriet Dart (right) and Jodie Burrage shared only a brief handshake (Jacob King/PA)

“I thought she directed something at me so I wasn’t best pleased,” said Dart of Boulter. “I just said to her well played but I didn’t think it was necessary, and that was it.”

Play did not get under way until 1.30pm on Tuesday because of rain, with second seed Jelena Ostapenko battling to a three-set win over Czech teenager Linda Noskova in the opening match.

The final action saw Russian fourth seed Anastasia Potapova defeat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 6-7 (6) 7-5 6-4 in a match that ended with no handshake or acknowledgement between the players.