British No.1 Katie Boulter felt a sense of relief as she got the better of her 2023 conqueror in the opening round of the LTA’s Rothesay International Eastbourne.

Boulter pushed past Petra Martic in straight sets although the Croatian, who knocked the Brit out in the same round last year, did not make it easy for the Leicester ace.

The 27-year-old took a 6-1 7-6(8) win after digging deep in the tie-break to motor through to the second round.

Boulter captured the LTA’s Rothesay Open Nottingham title two weeks ago and is leading an inspired charge for British tennis this summer.

She said: “That was a little stressful and a little bit more dramatic than I hoped it would be but I played a tie-break a couple of weeks ago which I didn’t come on the winning end of.

“It was super tight and it was in the back of my head when I was playing that one.

“I was just very happy to be through that, I know Petra very well. I lost to her on these courts last year.

“For me to play her again, it’s a little bit of deja vu but this time I got on the winning end so I’m happy.

“I just wanted it to finish as quickly as possible, she’s a fighter, she fights until the end and she makes it so hard for you.”

Last week, Boulter dropped out of the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham and later admitted she was playing through illness but she was back fighting fit on the south coast.

With a place in Wimbledon’s main draw confirmed last week, Boulter believes she has ‘nothing to lose’ in the last 16 against fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko.

She added: “I’m just really happy to be here in Eastbourne, I absolutely love coming back here, even though I see a lot of seagulls when I’m serving but I do enjoy being down here when the sunshine is out so there’s a smile on my face always.

“I’ve got nothing to lose this week, it’s a fantastic week to come out here and play in front of you guys and get some more practice on the grass courts because we always need it.”

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website