Harriet Dart wipes away tears before fighting back to beat rival Katie Boulter

Harriet Dart fought off Katie Boulter and her own emotions to claim one of the biggest wins of her career.

Dart was in tears at the back of the court when she trailed 6-2 in the deciding tie-break in the all-British second-round clash but she clawed her way back to win 4-6 6-1 7-6 (8) after two hours and 57 minutes of tension on Court One.

“I knew it was always going to be tough,” said Dart. “We played each other a few weeks ago and it didn’t go my way. I wear my emotions on my sleeve so you see everything how I’m thinking, unfortunately. I’m so happy to go through.”

On the rollercoaster nature of the clash, the 27-year-old added with a relieved smile: “You’re telling me. My head-to-head is woeful against her so I wasn’t expecting too much. It’s massive.”

It was a thoroughly merited win for Dart, with the 27-year-old into the last 32 here for the second time, where she will meet China’s Wang Xinyu, who upset fifth seed Jessica Pegula.

There has been tension between Boulter and Dart after recent matches between them but here they shared a hug at the net in recognition of the tightest of struggles.

The result will be hugely disappointing, though, for British number one Boulter, who made 75 unforced errors and struggled to find any rhythm throughout.

Harriet Dart in tears
Harriet Dart tries to stop the tears (John Walton/PA)

“I just had a tough day at the office,” said Boulter. “Not my best tennis today unfortunately. But it’s what happens sometimes. I’ve just got to take it on the chin. She played well. It is what it is.”

The 27-year-old sought comfort from boyfriend Alex De Minaur, who rushed from winning his own second-round match to support her, but admitted this loss will stick with her.

“One match doesn’t define my career,” she said. “That’s the first thing he said to me when I got off the court. He knows what he’s talking about. It’s not his first rodeo. He’s been through it all before. I’m lucky to have that support.

“I don’t feel like anything was a massive opportunity. This time next year I’m going to be a better player. It might be because of today, and I’m going to use that tough moment out there to really spur me on for the next few months.”

Katie Boulter swings to hit a forehand
Katie Boulter struggled with unforced errors (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

It was already guaranteed that Britain would have three women in the third round here for the first time in 40 years, with the winner joining Emma Raducanu and Sonay Kartal.

Boulter had reason to feel confident that would be her given her brilliant form over the last 13 months and six wins from seven previous matches against Dart.

But the last of those was a very tight three-setter in Nottingham last month and it was clear from the start that both players had carried an awful lot of tension on to Court One with them.

Boulter held her nerve just a little bit better in the opening set, saving three break points in a long fourth game before taking her opportunity in the next one.

Katie Boulter (left) and Harriet Dart embrace at the net
Katie Boulter (left) and Harriet Dart embrace at the net (John Walton/PA)

Dart, who could hit a new career high ranking in the top 80, was not helped by seven double faults but there were a lot of errors from both women.

Boulter then completely lost her way during the second set, with Dart managing to play more steadily, and the British number two looked on her way to victory after finally taking her sixth break point at 2-2 in the decider.

It was more than six years since Dart had beaten Boulter, though, and her weak second serve cost her as her rival fought back to level at 4-4.

With Dart sobbing and Boulter having found some rhythm at last, the match seemed to be only heading one way half way through the tie-break, but there was a final twist in the tale.