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.

Venus Williams’ valiant efforts at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham ended in a second-round defeat by Jelena Ostapenko.

The 43-year-old pulled off her best victory for nearly four years with a three-hour win over Camila Giorgi in the first round on Monday despite struggling with a right knee problem.

She had the joint strapped up again on Thursday and took a long medical timeout during the second set for treatment to her right thigh in what looked like being a straight-sets loss.

But Williams saved a match point at 3-5 in the second set and then reeled off three straight games as second seed Ostapenko lost her rhythm.

When she moved 2-0 ahead in the deciding set with evening drawing in, it appeared Williams might be on course for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2019.

But Ostapenko, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, recomposed herself and eventually powered her way to a 6-3 5-7 6-3 victory.

The Latvian said: “Of course I could finish it a bit quicker. I got a little bit disappointed after the match point in the second set. But Venus is a great player, a great champion and it’s an honour to share the court with her.

“She’s a very dangerous player, especially on grass. She was serving really well. It was a little bit hard, but I’m really happy that I managed it and I was fighting until the very last point. She’s an idol for a lot of people so it was very special.”

Williams, who made her Wimbledon debut in 1997, will now hope to recover in time for another tilt at the All England Club, having been awarded a wild card.

Ostapenko will next play Pole Magdalena Frech, who battled past eighth seed Sorana Cirstea 6-3 6-7 (1) 6-4 in a match delayed for nearly two hours by rain.

Britain’s Harriet Dart will take on fourth seed Anastasia Potapova, who defeated American Caty McNally on a deciding tie-break.

Meanwhile, there will be an all-Czech quarter-final between top seed Barbora Krejcikova and 18-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova.

Fruhvirtova was already through to the last eight and former French Open champion Krejcikova joined her by seeing off another Czech player, Tereza Martincova, 6-4 6-4.

Harriet Dart continued to carry British hopes at the Rothesay Birmingham Classic as she beat Anhelina Kalinina for a second successive week to make the quarter-finals.

Dart was awarded a Wimbledon wild card earlier in the day and celebrated in style by earning a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory over the Ukrainian fifth seed.

The British number four, who has been playing with tonsillitis, beat Kalinina in Nottingham last week on her way to the quarter-finals and this victory books her second successive last-eight spot.

She will face fourth seed Anastasia Potapova or Caty McNally in the last eight on Friday as she continues her impressive build-up for SW19, where she is now guaranteed a spot in the main draw.

“I was always expecting a battle, I played great last week and I knew she would raise her level. The courts are a little bit quicker here so I just had to adjust a little bit more,” she said in her on-court interview.

“I am just really pleased to be through.

“I am kind of used it, I played quite a lot of long matches, not out of choice, but it happens. I always love coming back to Birmingham, it is pretty awesome.

“I love playing on grass and I love playing in front of the home fans and I love these couple of weeks the most for sure.”

The world number 134, who beat fellow Brit Jodie Burrage in the first round, moved into a 3-0 lead but only after saving seven break points during her first two service games.

It took Kalinina 23 minutes to get off the mark but there was no stopping Dart who took the opening set 6-3.

A much closer second set occurred before Kalinina sensed her opportunity in the sixth service game to move 4-2 ahead and force a decider.

But Dart regrouped and raced clear in the deciding set, having match points at 5-0.

Kalinina did make her serve it out, but that proved no problem for the Brit, much to the delight of the Edgbaston Priory crowd.

Earlier in the day, Linda Fruhvirtova progressed into the quarter-finals after the highly-rated teenager defeated Bernarda Pera 6-1 7-6 (3).

China’s Zhu Lin, who beat Katie Boulter on day one, also continued her fine tournament with victory over third seed Magda Linette by a 6-3 6-0 score.

Top seed Barbora Krejcikova started her time in Birmingham with a 6-3 6-3 win over Cristina Bucsa in the first round.

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