WTA

Harriet Dart confident her game heading right way despite Birmingham exit

By Sports Desk June 23, 2023

Harriet Dart is confident her game is heading in the right direction after her run at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham was ended by a narrow quarter-final loss to Anastasia Potapova.

Dart defeated top-30 player Anhelina Kalinina for the second week in a row to reach the last eight but was unable to capitalise on a good start against fourth seed Potapova, losing out 4-6 6-3 6-4.

It has been a difficult season for Dart, who has plummeted out of the top 100 after a breakthrough year in 2022, but the 26-year-old has found her form on grass and this was a second consecutive quarter-final appearance following on from Nottingham last week.

“I thought it was a really high-level match,” said Dart, who has been awarded a wild card for Eastbourne next week.

“I don’t think I served particularly very well but managed to find a way to get ahead with the first set. I definitely had a lot of chances. But overall a positive week.

“Of course I wanted to do better today and to keep going but it’s important just to keep building week in, week out to be able to compete with the best players in the world.

“And to also be realistic. This is grass, it’s a unique surface. I really enjoy these couple of weeks and just to try and use this momentum for the rest of the season.

 

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“Today I played someone who’s 21 in the world and lost 6-4 in the third, and I think there’s a lot of areas I can improve on, so it’s heading in the right direction.”

Dart struggled with her serve throughout the match but managed to win the opening set despite five double faults, producing some fine shots from the back of the court, and she made the first move in the second set with a break for 2-1.

But Potapova, ranked 21st, began to punish Dart’s second serve and the Russian turned the match around with a run of four games in a row, cutting down on the errors that had blighted her game.

Dart recovered from 3-1 down in the deciding set to level at 3-3 but Potapova’s heavy groundstrokes were taking their toll and the Russian broke again before serving out the victory.

Potapova next faces second seed Jelena Ostapenko, who mounted an impressive comeback from a set and 4-0 down to defeat Magdalena Frech 4-6 7-5 6-2.

The Latvian played until after 8pm on Thursday night in her victory over Venus Williams and was back on court on Friday lunchtime to take on Pole Frech.

Ostapenko needed treatment for a left calf problem and at one stage looked like she might not finish the match but she managed to turn things around in the second set before taking the decider.

“It was very little time to recover from yesterday because we finished very late,” she said.

“I was struggling as well with my left calf. I was thinking at some point maybe I should not continue but there is a fighter inside of me so I want to play until I cannot walk or something.

“After winning the second set I felt like I was playing better and my footwork was there. I’m really glad to manage to win this match.”

Top seed Barbora Krejcikova is through to the last four for the first time at a grass-court event having beaten teenage compatriot Linda Fruhvirtova 6-3 6-2, and the Czech will take on China’s Zhu Lin, who was a 4-6 6-3 6-2 winner over Rebecca Marino.

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