Cluj-Napoca | Dart makes first WTA semi-final appearance

British No 3 Harriet Dart continued her fine run at the WTA 250 Transylvania Open with an impressive win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz to advance to her first WTA Tour semi-final, where she will face former World No 1 Karolina Pliskova, who easily dispatched Sara Errani on Friday.

I mean I wouldn’t really say I’m a doubles player, but I enjoy it. I enjoy playing with my friends and, I think, it really helps with my singles game. You play under pressure, deuce points, obviously, are, like, the bane of my life. It’s great to be able to practice some things. My coach always wants me to come to the net more, and play my net game, and the doubles is definitely helping me with that. Harriet Dart

Dart, who has now won 5 matches in a row in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca after coming through qualifying, comfortably beat Spain’s Parrizas Diaz, 6-3 6-2, in an hour and 37 minutes.

The 27-year old Briton, who has lost her previous 4 Tour quarter-finals, which were all on British grass, is now guaranteed to return to the top 100 on Monday, and will overtake Jodie Burrage as British No 2 if she can go further.

Dart made a disastrous start on Friday, ceding 5 break points in her opening service game, 4 of which she saved before Parrizas Diaz struck, but, from there, she took a firm grip on the match, finding the right balance of aggression and consistency to open up a 4-1 lead.

Despite wasting 4 chances for a triple break, Dart needed just one set point to inch closer to the Last 4, and she then moved 3-0 ahead in the second, with Parrizas Diaz’s higher error count proving her to be her undoing.

The second break represented one of 5 consecutive losses of serve for both players, as Parrizas Diaz’s improving returns were combatted by the mistakes from her own racket.

The Spanish World No 132 did manage to save one match point, but she could not deny Dart the second, as the Brit completed the job with an exquisite backhand right into the corner of the court.

“I’m really excited to keep it going,” Dart said later. “And it’s funny, I didn’t think either of us played particularly good tennis. I think both of us were a bit nervous.

“I was just happy that I fought really hard, and kept my head together, and managed to take the close games in the big moments.”

The win has ensured Dart her best tournament result at the top level, and now, standing in her way of a maiden WTA Tour final, is Pliskova, after the Czech dispatched Italy’s Errani, 6-2 6-0, in just 61 minutes.


Harriet Dart is also in the doubles semi-final, teaming up with Tereza Mihalikova and taking out top seeds, Eri Hozumi & Makoto Ninomiya

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Dart is also through to the doubles semi-final in Cluj, teaming up with Tereza Mihalikova from Slovakia, having taken out the top seeds, Eri Hozumi & Makoto Ninomiya from Japan on Thursday.

The 27-year-old admitted that her outings on the doubles court are helping her singles game.

“I mean I wouldn’t really say I’m a doubles player, but I enjoy it,” she said. “I enjoy playing with my friends and, I think, it really helps with my singles game.

“You play under pressure, deuce points, obviously, are, like, the bane of my life. It’s great to be able to practice some things. My coach always wants me to come to the net more, and play my net game, and the doubles is definitely helping me with that.”

On Saturday, in the doubles semi-final, Dart & Mihalikova will face fellow Brit Olivia Nicholls & Elixane Lechemia from France.


Home favourite Ana Bogdan upset top-seeded Arantxa Rus to reach the Last 4 where will meet Jaqueline Cristian

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Later in the day, No 8 seed Ana Bogdan of Romania edged past top-seeded Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands, 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(5) in a 3-hour 28-minute quarter-final marathon.

Bogdan, the home hope, won a tightly contested second-set tiebreak on her second set point, then rallied from down 4-5 in both the decider and the ensuing breaker to complete the upset.

The Romanian fired 8 aces without a double-fault while saving 12 of 18 break points, compared to Rus’s 4 aces but coughed up 8 double-faults.

Bogdan will face her countrywoman, Jaqueline Cristian, in the semi-finals, ensuring one player from Romania will reach the final on her home soil.


Jaqueline Cristian defeated Anastasija Sevastova to reach the semi-finals in Cluj-Napoca, ensuring a Romanian finalist

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Cristian halted Anastasija Sevastova’s come-back from maternity leave to reach her 4th career semi-final with a 6-3 7-5 win, holding off a fight-back from the Latvian from 3-0 down in the second set.

It was another high-level performance from Cristian, who remained focused throughout, leading from the start, and only being challenged when she served for the match, when Sevastova broke and then levelled.

At 5-5, the Romanian save 3 break points before holding and closed it out in. straight sets.

”I am very happy to be able to show this level of tennis in front of the fans,” Cristian said afterwards. “I tried to focus on myself and my game, knowing that she is an opponent with a lot of experience, and I tried not to look beyond the net, to do what I knew best, to enjoy being on the field, and to finish the match peacefully, regardless of the result.”

The result takes Cristian into her first WTA semi-final since July 2023 in Prague, and she will climb to at least 70th in the world on Monday, while she also becomes the third player from Romania, after Simona Halep and Gabriela Ruse, to make the semi-finals at the Transylvania Open.



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