Harriet Dart’s Wimbledon dream slips away in painful loss

British number two Harriet Dart lost six games in a row to suffer a painful third-round defeat to Wang Xinyu to miss out on the chance to break new ground at Wimbledon.

Dart had failed to reach the last 16 of a grand slam since her main-draw debut at the All England Club six years ago, but she had negotiated windy conditions and rain delays to move 5-4 up in the second before she sent a simple smash volley into the net at deuce.

It was the closest Dart would get to a match point, with further lapses of concentration in the third set after she raced into a three-game lead bringing her fine run at the Championships to an end after a 2-6 7-5 6-3 loss to Wang.

An emotionally charged victory over Katie Boulter on Thursday had booked Dart a place in round three at SW19 for the first time in five years.

China’s Wang stood in the way of potential history for the Briton, who had won their only other meeting in qualifying for the 2022 Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne, but rain pushed back the scheduled 11am start.

When play did begin two hours later, windy conditions contributed towards three breaks of serve in the first four games and Dart’s more solid play earned her an early 3-1 lead.

The wet weather did return at deuce on Dart’s serve and Wang broke back straight after the 2.48pm resumption, but the world number 100 produced a strong response with a sweet backhand quickly moving her 4-2 ahead.

Harriet Dart shakes hands with Wang Xinyu
Harriet Dart shakes hands with Wang Xinyu (John Walton/PA)

A fine forehand winner handed Dart a rain-affected first set in 38 minutes as Court Two started to experience sunny conditions.

Breaks were exchanged in the fourth and fifth service game of the second set before Dart dug deep to hold for 4-3.

The home crowd rallied around Dart when she double-faulted to go 15-30 down in her next service game, but she regrouped and then squandered a golden chance for a first match point.

Dart slammed a simple smash volley into the net on deuce as Wang held for 5-5 and subsequently forced a decider when she broke her opponent straight after.

Harriet Dart leans on her racket
Harriet Dart could not take her opportunities (John Walton/PA)

It was now a test of Dart’s mental resilience but after she whacked her racket bag, the Hampstead right-hander regained her composure, produced a solid hold and wore down Wang to break at the start of the third set.

A forehand arrowed down the line moved Dart 3-0 up, but the pressure told in the fifth game when she relinquished her break with another sloppy shot into the net and the momentum had firmly shifted.

Wang broke again as frustration started to boil over for Dart, who sent down a double-fault during the final game before the world number 42 sealed victory with a volley at the net.