Wimbledon 2024: Harriet Dart defies tears to beat Katie Boulter in gruelling British showdown

Wimbledon 2024: Harriet Dart defies tears to beat Katie Boulter in gruelling British showdown

Harriet Dart produced a dramatic comeback to beat Katie Boulter in a gruelling Battle of Britain at Wimbledon.

The 27-year-old, who had lost six of the seven previous meetings between the two, trailed 6-2 in a final set tie-break and was in tears at the back of the court, sensing her opportunity had gone.

But she reeled off four points in a row to level it up and then held her nerve, regaining her composure to seal a 4-6 6-1 7-6 win in just under three hours, taking full advantage of a wildly inconsistent display from Boulter.

The 32nd seed, who beat Dart on her way to the Nottingham title last month, produced 75 unforced errors over the three sets, more than double Dart’s tally. Most of those came from the misfiring forehand, with the mistakes returning at the worst possible time in the home straight.

Dart progressed into the third round and will face Wang Xinyu, who stunned fifth seed Jessica Pegula earlier in the day.

Dart said: “I wear my emotions on my sleeve so you see everything how I'm thinking, unfortunately, but I'm so happy to be able to get through. Thank you so much for the support, it was so fab.

“My head-to-head is absolutely woeful against Katie Boulter so I wasn't expecting too much but at the same time I just tried my best out there and even though I was down in that tie-break I just thought give it everything, no regrets and I'm really pleased to be able to battle through."

It was a fairly error-strewn start to the match, after a warm-up with a similar theme, and winners were in short supply in the opening couple of games as the nerves were clear on both sides of the net.

A lengthy third game went to deuce six times and brought three break points for Dart, none of which she could take. It proved immediately costly, as Dart followed a double fault with an unforced error in the following game to gift Boulter a break and a 3-2 lead.

Dart made seven double faults in the first set and it left her serve under regular attack. She saved one set point when serving at 5-3 to briefly prolong proceedings, but Boulter got the job done on her serve to take the opener in just under an hour.

An impressive response followed from Dart, who took advantage of a suddenly misfiring Boulter forehand to take an early break in the second set. Three more break points followed and Dart took the third of them with a stunning forehand winner down the line, as she moved 4-0 in front with a double break.

The double fault woes returned, two in a row gifting Boulter one of those back, but the seed was then broken for the third time in a row, before Dart comfortably served it out and forced a decider.

Harriet Dart overcame her final-set frustration to beat Katie Boulter (AFP via Getty Images)
Harriet Dart overcame her final-set frustration to beat Katie Boulter (AFP via Getty Images)

More marathon games followed in the third set, the errors continuing to flow as the tension levels rose. Dart saved three break points to level it up at 2-2 and, after five opportunities came and went in the following game, broke at the sixth time of asking, with Boulter seemingly unable to put two consistent points together.

Dart had a chance to make it a double break, could not do so, and the see-saw match tilted the other way. Boulter broke back to level it up at 4-4, and a sensational backhand winner then took her to within a game of victory.

Dart cut an increasingly irritated figure but held firm to force a tie-break. Her frustrations grew though, gesturing to her box and berating herself and, as the latest error gave Boulter a 6-2 lead, she broke down crying into her arm.

It was Boulter, though, who tightened up, Dart charging back through the tears, and one final misplaced Boulter forehand brought an end to her first Wimbledon as a seeded player, and left Dart joining Emma Raducanu in the third round.