Henry Wancke | 9th Mar 2020 | 0
Melbourne | Dart shines as Norrie and Boulter exit
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
The second day of the Australian Open was a disappointment as far as the British contingent was concerned with four of the five competing in their opening round, losing out to their opponents.
The occasion might be a bit different but, at the end of the day, it’s just another tennis match Harriet Dart
Harriet Dart though provided the one spark as she overcame a large ranking gap to make round two as a qualifier.
Ranked 178, Dart, the 23-year-old from London, put the spectators through the mill as she failed to convert two match points while serving at 6-5 only to recover from 1-5 in the deciding tie-break by claiming eight of the last nine points for a 2-6 6-4 7-6 victory against a player ranked nearly 100 places above her.
“I’m just really proud of the way I was able to stay composed and get over the line in the end,” she said. “It was definitely tricky at 6-5 having match points, keeping it together. She stepped it up, I thought, at the start of the tiebreak and I was just really proud of myself to fight back and compete.”
In the deciding tie-break she recovered from a 1-5 deficit to clinch the win 10-7 and intends to provide her next opponent, the Wimbledon champion, last year’s finalist and former world number one Simona Halep, a match she will remember.
“She’s a great champion,” Dart said, “and it’s a great opportunity for me to see where my level is at. Whatever court we play on, it’s probably going to be a big court because she’s a big name.
“The occasion might be a bit different but, at the end of the day, it’s just another tennis match.”
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As Dart was claiming her win, Cameron Norrie came close to clinching victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert only to slip to a disappointing 7-5 3-6 3-6 7-5 6-4 loss after nearly four hours of fluctuating play.
He looked to be in control of the match as he led two-sets-to one and Herbert took two medical time outs only to allow the Frenchman take back the initiative and go forward to the next round.
“It was tough,” he said. “I was in complete control of the match and then he actually played good and I was disappointed. I think I lost a little bit of focus.
“I kind of gave him the break in the fifth, then I broke back and then a couple of errors and I gave it to him again. There’s a lot to learn from it.”
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Norrie’s loss only added to the overall depression at the British results before Dart’s success, as the early losses of Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund were compounded by Katie Boulter who put up a spirited fight against one of the pre-tournament favourites, Elina Svitolina, succumbing 6-4 7-5 to the fifth seed.
In her defeat Boulter showed promising signs that her comeback from a stress fracture in her back was on an upward course.
Boulter, ranked 321 places below the Ukranian, was let down by her serve in the final game of the first set and, while she broke back at the start of the second, Svitolina’s greater experience and match fitness came to the fore to see her through.
In fairness it was a tough draw for the 23-year-old from Leicester, producing 27 winners to Svitolina’s 17 only for Svitolina’s greater experience on the big points proving the difference.
Heather Watson was due to play but her match has been postponed to Wednesday.