Britain’s Harriet Dart continued her excellent start to the new season by making it four wins in a row at the Brisbane International. Dart came back from a set down to defeat Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon 1-6 6-3 6-4 in a match that lasted just over two hours.
Dart started the match with intent, breaking her opponent’s opening service game. But the Australian proved too powerful in the early exchanges, often causing Dart difficulty when pushed out wide. After a frustrating opening set, where Dart hit just two winners compared to Hon’s 11, the Australian looked on course for an opening round victory.
However Dart rallied in the second set, and after a couple of breaks of serve for each player, Dart was able to capitalise from her opponent’s growing error count. Hon, who was the more powerful in the opening set, couldn’t keep up her conviction and made far too many errors to let Dart back into the match.
The Brit was struggling throughout the match, possibly from the effect of playing a fourth match in a row in tricky conditions, but her opponent was giving her chances. In a tense and enjoyable final set, the pivotal moment came in the sixth game, as Dart recovered from 0-40 to clinch a crucial hold of serve. From there, Dart didn’t look back, breaking her opponent’s serve in the next game before holding to love.
Dart was much more relaxed, especially once all her challenges had been used, and it showed in her tennis. And despite missing a match point on the Australian’s serve, Dart was able to serve out the match in the next service game on her fourth opportunity.
It won’t be Dart’s best performance this season, but today’s victory showed just how far the 22 year-old has come in the last year. The Brit showed excellent net play throughout and should be extremely encouraged by a terrific start to the season. She struggled on her second serve, but showed how much of a fighter she is as she rallied in the final two sets.
The final set blockbuster in front of a big crowd cheering on a home player is the type of experience that can’t be bought on the ITF tour, as Dart clinched only her second WTA main draw victory of her career. After coming through three tough rounds of qualifying, excitement will start to build around Dart, who has quietly made her way up the rankings.
She will be pleased to take the day off tomorrow, where she will find out her second round opponent. Waiting in the wings could be another Australian – Daria Gavrilova – or the eighth seed Anastasija Sevastova. Whoever wins that match will face an in-form Brit who is ready to fight to stay in the tournament.
Image: Andrew Campbell