Britain’s Harriet Dart outlasted Lin Zhu, the 9th seed in qualifying at the Miami presented by Itaú, on Monday and, if she can get past Tereza Martincova on Tuesday, she will earn a place in the main draw.
Dart and Zhu squared off for the second time their careers, with the Chinese winning in 3 sets in Luan in 2018, but on this occasion it was the 153-ranked Brit who got the upper hand, 7-6(10) 4-6 6-2, in a match that lasted 2 hours 42 minutes on Court 5 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
With a 3-6 win-loss record in 2021, 3-5 on hard courts, Dart came into the match after a good run in Monterrey, where she lost in the second round of qualifying but was drawn as a lucky loser into the main draw, only to face compatriot Heather Watson.
Dart pulled off her first win over Watson, the No 9 seed, in a tight straight sets encounter, but then lost in the second round to Viktoria Kuzmova from Slovenia.
Dart has been returning to the WTA Tour after suffering a back injury that kept her out of the game for most of last year.
She has an overall 213-161 win-loss career record, which includes a positive 134-90 record on hard courts.
Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, who won her first career WTA Tour title on Sunday in Monterrey, failed to progress in Miami.
Seeded 2nd in qualifying, Fernandez could not continue her run and lost to Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, 6-4 6-2, after an hour and 23 minutes.
The Canadian held a break point in the deciding game of the opening set but couldn’t convert, and the 136th-ranked Buzarnescu controlled the second set to wrap up the match with relative ease.
The 18-year-old Fernandez rose 16 places in this week’s WTA Tour rankings to a career high of No 72, and is the second-youngest player in the Top 100 behind 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, who is ranked 36.
Another Canadian also lost on Monday, Gabriela Dabrowski to Russia’s Varvara Gracheva, 7-5 6-2.
Dabrowski is ranked 10th in the world in doubles but just 498th in singles, while Gracheva is 99th in singles and the No 6 seed in qualifying.
There were a number of upsets, with No 1 seed Misaki Doi from Japan losing in a 3rd set tiebreak to wild carded American, Hailey Baptiste, 1-6 6-0 7-6(6), and Martina Travisan, the 3rd seed from Italy bowing out to Bulgaria’s Olga Govortsova, 4-6 6-1 7-6(4).
Among the players still with a chance of qualifying are veterans like former doubles World No 1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Kirsten Flipkens, from Belgium.
Alongside the second round of qualifying being played on Tuesday, the first day of the main draw also gets under way, headlined by 40-year-old Venus Williams who plays Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas in what is her 21st year of competing at the South Florida tournament.
Venus’ first visit to Miami dates back to 1997, as a wild card, when her first-round opponent was only 3 years old.
Since then, Williams has won the title in the Magic City 3 times, in 1998, 1999 and 2001, and was a finalist in 2010.
She returns to the match court after injuring her right ankle and left knee during a second-round loss to Italian Sara Errani at the Australian Open.
Another match to watch is the all-American clash between Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle, who are playing for a chance of tackling World No 5 Elina Svitolina.
Also, Australian Ajla Tomljanovic and Russian Anastasia Potapova face off to see who Naomi Osaka’s first opponent in Miami will be.
Matches start at 10:00am at the Hard Rock Stadium, which is 2pm GMT, and can be viewed live on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.