Katie Boulter

Boulter bows out to Dart in battle of the Brits thriller at Wimbledon

Katie Boulter failed to convert a four-point deciding tie-break lead as she crashed out of Wimbledon in a battle of the Brits thriller against red-hot rival Harriet Dart.

The Leicester player and British No.1, 27, was 6-2 up against her compatriot with the third set locked at six games apiece before blowing her big chance and eventually going down 4-6 6-17-6 (8) in the second round.

Dart, the British No.2 but ranked 71 places below Boulter, had dissolved into tears when trailing in the tie-break and looked to have virtually thrown in the towel in front of a gripped Court 1 crowd.

But Boulter proceeded to miscue a series of forehands and give Dart, who had beaten her East Midlands nemesis just once in seven matches heading into the encounter, an unexpected glimmer of hope.

Dart soon found herself serving for the match and miraculously booked her place in the third round for just the second time when one final Boulter groundstroke went long.

The Leicester player and British No.1, 27, was 6-2 up against her compatriot with the third set locked at six games apiece.

The Hampstead star, who will now face Chinese star Wang Xinyu in the last 32, said: “I knew it was always going to be a really tough battle, we played 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, 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 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.”

Boulter had beaten Dart in a heated affair at the LTA’s Rothesay Nottingham Open earlier this summer to extend her hegemony against her big British rival.

She triumphed over German Tatjana Maria in the opening round at SW19 at the start of this week but was unable to emulate her run to the last 32 this time 12 months ago as Dart secured a memorable victory.

Dart added: “It’s massive. I haven’t played on Court One since I played mixed doubles here a few years ago so it’s so nice to get my first big win on a really big stadium court in front of a home crowd.

“It’s absolutely surreal.”

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website

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