Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Dart triumphs in battle of Brits

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British No.1 Katie Boulter edge out in nailbiting Championship tie-break

London, July 4: With nerves fizzing on the grass like a dropped bottle of cola – or perhaps something more British, such as Pimm’s or carbonated elderflower – an emotional, teary Harriet Dart won the so-called Battle of the Brits against Katie Boulter in a first-to-10-points, third-set tie-break.
Tennis in an English summer garden party sounds gentle, almost serene, but of course it isn’t anything like that for the British at the All England Club. Facing another Briton at The Championships – when you’re no longer guaranteed the undivided support of the crowd – can leave you feeling even more on edge.
And if your fellow Briton is also a friend, there’s the potential for even more awkwardness.Boulter against Dart, a second-round meeting of the two highest-ranked British women, was probably always going to be a high-stress, jumpy occasion, and so it proved in a match played in sunshine and the full Wimbledon glare.
Even when a bird landed on the grass towards the end of the second set – holding up play for a few moments and making the crowd giggle – it hardly alleviated the tension on No.1 Court in a match that lasted the best part of three hours.
As if this match hadn’t been stressful enough already, it was decided by an extended tie-break, Dart coming from 2-6 down – having stopped her tears – for a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(8) victory that took her into the last 32 for the first time in five years.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeve so you can see how I’m thinking,” said Dart. “This is massive for me, surreal.”
Of the two Britons, it was naturally the higher-ranked woman who was dealing with greater expectation, and who therefore had more reason to find this uncomfortable. Boulter, who is seeded at Wimbledon for the first time, had been hoping to reach the last 32 for a third summer in a row. But it was Dart, the World No.100, who advanced.
As wild card Emma Raducanu and qualifier Sonay Kartal were already through, Dart was the third British woman to make the last 32 of the ladies’ singles and so people in British tennis are partying like it’s 1987, which was the last time a trio of home women got this far.
This might have been Independence Day for Americans, but Thursday’s order of play is about as British a line-up as home tennis fans could have possibly hoped for. In the first match of the Brit-on-Brit double-header on No.1 Court – this was followed by Jack Draper against Cameron Norrie – there were some giant, unexpected shifts in momentum. (AP)

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