BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Fighting spirit was in abundance as Harriet Dart kept up her good run of form in Brisbane to reach the second round.
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Harriet Dart [Q] de Priscilla Hon  1-6 6-3 6-4
It looked to be starting promisingly for Harriet Dart as she battled past Priscilla Hon’s opening service game to take the lead, before the Aussie wildcard broke back. From there Hon was the one who settled the quickest, reeling off six games on the spin to take the first set after two lengthy opening games, in a little over 30 minutes.
Dart, playing her fourth match in a row after coming through qualifying was looking dejected as she called for coach Goran Marijan – who told her to take more risks. Despite looking pretty tired, it was a fantastic turnaround for Dart in a set with five breaks of serve between the pair, as she clawed back the deficit to level the match.
The pattern of play continued with Dart breaking early yet again at the start of the set, only to be pegged back immediately as their exchanges became more intense. Dart saved three breakpoints to fend off another Hon lead, and went on to real for the advantage once more. Unable to break for the match, Dart had another three match points, claiming the match on the third try, winning a fourth on the trot and setting up for the second round in Brisbane on her debut.
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Part-way through her match against Hon, Dart’s coach acknowledged that she maybe was not feeling great, playing in her fourth game on the trot, so a day’s rest for Dart will have been most welcome before she takes to the court to face Anastasija Sevastova.
The Latvian, who looks as though she is scared stiff on a rollercoaster even if she is winning, got the better of Dart last summer in Eastbourne. Arguably this is a different Dart she will be facing. The Brit rose almost 250 places in the rankings last year, and seems to be growing in confidence, even finishing the year with an ITF title.
What was impressive in her match against Hon was that she figured out a way to guts out a win despite obviously not feeling the greatest. There was not much separating them in the rankings, but Hon’s confidence slipped as Dart hung in with her.
Her hitting at times was ferocious and against an aggressive baseliner like Sevastova, expect the cover of the ball to be hit off by this pair in their exchanges. Dart may not be the tallest player out there but she can generate a lot of power, and pin players back deep in the court.
She also seems to be as feisty but maybe a little more steady than Sevastova, who truly wears her heart on her sleeve – even if she is winning she looks as though the world is coming to an end, so if Dart can get under her skin and frustrate her, she could make this a battle.
Prediction: Sevastova in three sets.
Dart & Sevastova are scheduled on Show Court 1 at 11am (1am GMT).
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