Madrid | Dart qualifies as main draw action begins

British No 2 Harriet Dart won her second qualifying match at the Mutua Madrid Open and joins Emma Raducanu and Katie Boulter in the main draw of the WTA 1000 this week in Spain’s capital.

It’s my first time, I think, I’ve won two big matches at a clay-court event, especially at a Masters. So I’m pretty proud of the performance, and I haven’t been feeling that great recently so just about adjusting and fighting for every point. To win two matches 7-6 in the third, 7-5 in the third, physically I’m in a really good condition and I’ve always known that. Harriet Dart

The 27-year old outlasted Russia’s Maria Timofeeva, the 17th qualifying seed, 4-6 6-3 7-5, and will face Spain’s Cristina Bucsa in the 1st-round on Wednesday.

While Raducanu will meet Argentine qualifier Maria Lourdes Carle in her opening encounter, also on Wednesday, Boulter, who is seeded 26 and receives a bye into round 2, will meet the winner of the match between American wild-card Robin Montgomery and Russia’s Elina Avanesyan.

Previously drawn against former World No 1 Karolina Pliskova, who later withdrew from the tournament due to an ankle injury, Raducanu meets a relative newcomer to the tour in Carle, who sits at a career-high of No 82 and is making her WTA 1000 main draw debut.

Should Raducanu win on Wednesday, she will face 17th seed and 2023 semi-finalist Veronika Kudermetova in round 2.

Fatigue has been a concern for Raducanu in the past, and while she admits she is feeling the effects of her recent exploits at the Billie Jean Cup and Stuttgart, she feels ready to kick on.

“I feel good in terms of my tennis, I feel like I’m playing really well,” she said. “I think I’ve just racked up confidence, week by week.

“It’s a challenge coming here to Madrid as it’s different conditions, it’s the first outdoor tournament I’ve played since Indian Wells. It’s not much time but I’ve had to just adjust quickly, and I feel pretty good here. I think I’m just trying to learn how to manage energy levels.

“I’m not going to deny that I’m tired but I think it’s just accepting that, knowing that you’re not going to feel 100% and just try to save everything for the fight, because the mental part can push you over the line as much as it can.”


Emma Raducanu opens against Argentine qualifier Maria Lourdes Carle on Wednesday in Madrid

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Dart came through qualifying in Madrid for the first time, and is looking to extend her winning streak after proving her mental toughness in her 2 qualifying matches against beat Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Timofeeva.

She faces a new challenge against Bucsa, though, as she will be playing a home favourite who will be well supported by the crowd, and is the second-highest ranked Spaniard on the WTA Tour, ranked 75, while Dart currently sits at No 86.

“It’s my first time, I think, I’ve won two big matches at a clay-court event, especially at a Masters,” Dart told Express Sport. “So I’m pretty proud of the performance, and I haven’t been feeling that great recently so just about adjusting and fighting for every point.

“To win two matches 7-6 in the third, 7-5 in the third, physically I’m in a really good condition and I’ve always known that.

“It’s just mentally being able to stay there and fight and compete for every point. And I was really proud the last two days to be able to do that and just try and like, take that momentum into my next matches.

“Like I said, I haven’t felt that necessarily comfortable on this surface but I feel, like, I’m just competing really hard and just learning more and more about myself each day on this surface.”


Tatjana Maria outlasted Peyton Stearns in a thrilling 3-setter on Tuesday

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In 1st-round action on Tuesday, Germany’s Tatjana Maria, who is a mother of two and 36-years old, seems to be getting better with age, and outlasted American Peyton Stearns, 6-7(4) 6-2 7-6(5), in a 2 hour 45 minute thriller.

Her eldest daughter, 10-year-old Charlotte Maria, is competing at an Under 12 tournament in Germany, supported by husband Charles-Edouard Maria, while Maria herself will follow along on the live scores.

“She’s super excited to play,” told the Tennis Channel Live Desk. “She plays under-12 over there, with all the best little kids from around the world. It’s super special and she really enjoys it.”

Maria’s win over Stearns, her second-ever main-draw win at the Caja Magica, means she will not be able to watch Charlotte play her first match.

“I’m pretty nervous already, but she’s so excited,” said Maria, who used her all-court game and slice backhand to reach a career-high ranking of No 42 earlier this season. “She has a two-handed backhand. She loves volleys and drop-shots, and of course, she can play slice. It would be sad if she couldn’t!”

Maria’s next match comes against another successful mother in Victoria Azarenka from Belarus, who receives a bye into the 2nd-round.


Anna Karolina Schmiedlova handed former AO champion Sofia Kenin her 9th defeat in a row and will play Ons Jabeur next

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Things are not going so well for Sofia Kenin, though, another former Australian Open champion, who lost her 9th consecutive match since January, going down 6-3 6-4 to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia, who is a solid clay player and a tour veteran.

Schmiedlova simply proved the better on the day, and used her chances well, while the American squandered her 2 break point chances in what was a competitive contest that saw Kenin broken twice.

Meanwhile, China’s Wang Xiyu defeated Ana Bogdan, 6-7(5) 7-6(4) 6-2 in her 1st-round match, after the World No 54 was down match point at 5-4 in the second set, but she turned the match around and eventually won it in 3 hours and 21 minutes.

The reward for Wang is that she will play top seed Iga Swiatek in the 2nd-round, which will be their first meeting.


Arantxa Rus came from behind to beat Brenda Fruhvirotva in straight sets

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Alternate Nadia Podoroska from Argentina advanced past Katerina Siniakova with a 6-2 7-6(2) win, improving to 2-0 against the Czech former World Doubles No 1.

The two talented Fruhvirtova sisters, also from the Czech Republic and wild-carded into the draw, failed to make it past first base, with 18-year old Linda bowing out to Romania’s Irina-Camilia Begu, 6-4 7-6(0), while 17-year old Brenda blew a 4-0 lead and lost 7-5 6-3 to Dutchwoman Aranxta Rus.

In an all-Russian encounter, Anastasia Potapova downed Diana Shnaider, 7-5 6-4, while 18-year old wild-card Alexandra Eala from the Philippines stopped Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko’s hopes of advancement, 2-6 6-4 6-4.


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