Anne Keothavong has backed Katie Boulter to provide “weak” defending champion Elena Rybakina a run for her cash at Wimbledon.
The British No 1 is thru to the third spherical for the second 12 months in a row and has been rewarded with a plum tie towards the third seed.
Rybakina has constructed impressively on her first grand slam title, reaching the ultimate of the Australian Open and profitable the massive occasions in Indian Wells and Rome, however she got here into the occasion under-cooked after sickness and has seemed shaky at instances in her opening two matches.
Keothavong, the captain of Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup staff, mentioned of Boulter, who gained her first WTA Tour occasion in Nottingham final month: “She’s been enjoying some improbable tennis.
“It is not simply this event however over the previous few weeks. It is taken time for all of that to come back collectively. And the largest factor is she’s been capable of stay match and wholesome for a protracted time frame, which for Katie has at all times been a problem.
“It does not get any simpler once more however Rybakina hasn’t actually come into this 12 months’s champs enjoying a number of tennis. I feel this can be a good time for Katie to play towards her, or for anybody actually to play towards her, she has seemed weak at instances.
“And, should you had been to be in Rybakina’s sneakers, you are up towards a British primary who’s common, who the British public at the moment are acquainted with, who can have the vast majority of that crowd supporting her, which is a state of affairs I do not suppose Rybakina has discovered herself in actually wherever around the globe too usually.
“Katie, she’s a big-match participant, she’s going to completely find it irresistible. It will not be a frightening expertise for her, which I feel is a giant factor. It is not the primary time for her going out on Centre Courtroom. Having had that earlier expertise, that may assist carry her.
“It is an incredible alternative. And it is one the place she will be able to swing with freedom and go on the market and play.”
Boulter claimed the largest victory of her profession to this point within the second spherical final 12 months towards former finalist Karolina Pliskova on Centre Courtroom.
“I feel I’ve acquired the entire complete factor in my reminiscence,” she mentioned. “It was an unimaginable match. I nonetheless take into consideration the time that I served it out. That is one thing that I draw on.
“I am already excited to play towards a prime participant and have a go. I feel they’re the moments I get excited for as a result of finally it is a time for me to check myself.”
Boulter will hit a career-high rating round 70 even when she loses on Saturday and Keothavong highlighted the larger selection she has added to her recreation underneath coach Biljana Veselinovic as a key think about her progress.
“You possibly can see she’s making an attempt to make use of the drop shot extra usually, she is making an attempt to look to make use of width extra usually,” mentioned Keothavong. “So it isn’t simply straight flat-ball hitting by the courtroom.
“And that is the work she has been doing and specializing in with Biljana. And I do suppose Biljana has been improbable for her. The staff she has round her, they’re all good folks. And she or he’s had some consistency there in that space.”
Boulter can be very settled in her private life and was out on Courtroom 18 on Friday watching long-term boyfriend Alex De Minaur in his second-round loss to Matteo Berrettini.
Boulter has spoken about how a lot she has realized from the Australian’s grounded nature, and Keothavong believes they’re affect on one another.
“Alex is so all the way down to earth and so beautiful,” mentioned the previous British primary. “They’re sickly in a really cute sort of approach.
“You possibly can inform how a lot they take care of one another and the way a lot they help one another and it was nice to see him court-side supporting her after his match and also you see it inside their households as effectively.
“It is laborious sufficient being a tennis participant, the emotional highs and lows. You want folks round you who’re going to remain level-headed and never look too far forward or get too excited however provide help to preserve your ft on the bottom.”
Rybakina doesn’t count on the partisan environment to be an excessive amount of of a problem, saying: “For positive the environment goes to be a bit totally different. The group will not be supporting me that a lot.
“I am positive it is going to be good. Simply hopefully I will win this match. I am going to attempt my greatest. She’s a tricky participant. Her recreation is aggressive. Additionally she has serve. It may be robust one.”