Wimbledon: Katie Boulter and Heather Watson win, Alastair Gray beaten

Katie Boulter has reached the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

British wildcard Katie Boulter enthralled Wimbledon’s Centre Court with a stunning fightback to beat 2021 runner-up Karolina Pliskova.

After earning a 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win, the 25-year-old fought back tears when revealing her gran died two days ago.

“I’m going to get so emotional. I’d like to dedicate it to her,” she said.

Earlier on Thursday, British number four Heather Watson matched her best Wimbledon singles performance by beating China’s Wang Qiang.

British wildcard Alastair Gray, ranked 288th and making his singles debut at the All England Club, had chances against American 11th seed Taylor Fritz before falling to a 3-6 6-7 (3-7) 3-6 defeat.

Boulter shows quality and determination amid grief

Boulter, once the emerging and exciting talent in the British women’s game, is trying to rebuild her career after being curtailed by injury problems in recent years.

The British number three proved she still has the talent to beat the world’s best when she earned the biggest win of her career against world number seven Pliskova in Eastbourne last week.

Now she has eclipsed that with another victory over the Czech former world number one, this time against a backdrop of personal grief.

Boulter struggled for words in the on-court interview immediately after she sealed victory, with an ecstatic crowd initially thinking it was solely down to the magnitude of her achievement.

“I have absolutely no words right now. I am literally shaking,” said Boulter, who is ranked 118th in the world.

“The crowd was unbelievable so thank you for getting me through that.”

When Boulter won the second set, the family members supporting from her box – which included her parents, brother James and grandfather – shared emotional and jubilant hugs.

It was a similar scene when Boulter clinched a memorable win with a volley.

Moments later, she revealed why the celebrations meant so much to her family.

On Saturday, Boulter will aim to reach the last 16 when she faces France’s Harmony Tan.

Tan, making her Wimbledon main-draw debut this year, beat American great Serena Williams in the first round and backed up that memorable win with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.

“It’s a dream come true for me and if I can have you behind me for those I can probably go a long way,” Boulter told the Centre Court crowd.

Watson matches best Wimbledon despite little sleep

Watson, 30, needed only one game to wrap up a 7-5 6-4 victory in a match halted by darkness on Wednesday.

Watson, who has played in singles every day of the tournament and only had four hours’ sleep on Wednesday night, will face Slovenian Kaja Juvan on Friday.

“I woke up not feeling great this morning,” the world number 121 said.

“It’s been a really tough few days for me with the scheduling. It’s not been on my side at all.

“I’ve just tried to do the best I could. In every situation try to stay positive and in the moment. I feel like I’ve handled it really well.”

Heather Watson celebrates beating Wang Qiang in the Wimbledon second round
Heather Watson has reached the Wimbledon third round on three previous occasions

Watson, who said she had to take a caffeine gel before playing on Wednesday which had then affected her sleep, said she might have to have a nap before her doubles match scheduled for later in the day. But that match, where she is playing alongside compatriot Harriet Dart, was later moved to another day.

In the men’s singles, 24-year-old Gray lost served for the second set against Fritz but was eventually beaten by the recent Eastbourne champion.

Gray saved two set points in the second tie-break and thought he had saved a third, running away in celebration after stretching for a forehand volley, but a diving Fritz managed to get to the ball and send it back over the net.

Fritz, 24, will face Slovakia’s Alex Molcan in the third round.

There are three other Britons playing in the singles on Thursday, with Harriet Dart, Liam Broady and Jack Draper also in action.

Dart takes on American eighth seed Jessica Pegula.

Broady plays Argentine 12th seed Diego Schwartzman, with Draper last on Court One against Australian 19th seed Alex de Minaur.

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