Katie Boulter
Katie Boulter won the first WTA 500 event of her career after she defeated Marta Kostyuk in the San Diego Open final. Toby Melville/Reuters

Katie Boulter clinched the biggest win of her career so far after she came from a set down to beat Marta Kostyuk in the final of the 2024 San Diego Open.

The Ukrainian won the first set 7-5, before the British number one significantly upped her performance levels to take the next two sets 6-2 6-2

Sunday's victory in the Southern Californian city marks the second title win of Boulter's career and the first she has won at a WTA 500 event. Her first tournament win came last summer at the Nottingham Open, in what was a WTA 250 event.

Boulter, who was not among the eight seeded players for the tournament, had an impressive run leading up to the final as she saw off second seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the round of 16, and overcame third seed, Emma Navarro, in the semi-finals.

Kostyuk was seeded at number six heading into the tournament and earned her spot in the final after she knocked out top seed, Jessica Pegula, in the last four.

Boulter led 2-1 in the opening set of the final before Kostyuk put four winning games together to lead 5-2. The Briton managed to claw her way back into the contest to make it 5-5, but Kostyuk refused to let her opponent cause more damage and secured the set after Boulter committed a double fault on the Ukrainian's seventh set point.

The second set saw Boulter take over and be in control of the matchup thanks to her first serve. The 27-year-old broke the Ukrainian three times and soon drew level in the contest after Kostyuk unsuccessfully returned a strong serve in the set's decisive point.

The British number one sustained her momentum in the deciding set as she landed two breaks to put on the verge of a stunning victory. When serving for the title on her first championship point, Boulter played a brilliant forehand shot to emerge on top in a mini-rally and ultimately secure a second career title.

After the match, Boulter was ecstatic with her win in San Diego, saying: "This week has been very, very special for so many different reasons. This one is pretty amazing, I've worked very hard for it, I played some incredible tennis all week."

The champion mentioned that not everything was easy for her out on the court, admitting: "Today was a complete battle, with myself as well, because I was a little bit nervous. But I managed to get over the line, and that I'm very proud of."

The 27-year-old then revealed the key to her remaining upbeat after a tough first set. She stated: "It was about me staying as tough as I possibly could mentally, and I managed to keep my cool. Then I started to relax and play through shots a little bit more."

The Briton's triumph at the San Diego Open sees her climb from 49th in the WTA rankings up to a career-best rank of 27. Crucially, this now gives her a good shot at being seeded for the year's next Grand Slam, the French Open, which begins in late May.

So far, 2024 has undoubtedly been a year of progress for Boulter as she has picked up seven victories against top 40 opponents. In 2023, she only managed five wins over players in the top 100 and none against players ranked in the top 50.

The Briton's success this year ponders the question as to whether she is now firmly the nation's best hope when it comes to competing on the WTA tour. Many assumed former British number one and Grand Slam winner, Emma Raducanu, would regain that mantle this year once she returned to full health.

However, the consistency Boulter has shown in her recent displays against quality opponents suggests she could have a strong 2024 and possibly make it to the latter stages of a Grand Slam.

At the same time, Raducanu has not had a great start to 2024 and is still having to work on making the right changes to her scheduling and training arrangements.