Harriet Dart had to overcome both Shuai Zhang and challenging conditions to reach the second round of the LTA’s Rothesay International Eastbourne.
The in-form Dart continued her strong start to the summer with a battling 7-5 6-7(5) 6-1 victory over Zhang for her third top 40 scalp of the grass court season.
A strong wind caused issues for both players but it was Dart who managed the extremities better, leaving the 26-year-old pleased with her afternoon’s work.
“That was quite a roller-coaster,” she said.
“I wasn’t just playing my opponent, I was playing myself as well at times which was a disaster.
“The conditions were really tough, the wind was going everywhere. It took me a while to adapt but I’m really happy to get through.
“It wasn’t easy but I kept trying to tell myself to keep going after it and if she plays too good tennis then that’s too good. I’m really happy I was able to close it in the end.”
Dart battled back from 4-2 down to take the first set, breaking serve to go 6-5 up before holding out to take a deserved lead.
Zhang was the one to rally in the second set, breaking serve at 6-5 to force a tie-breaker which she ultimately edged 7-5.
But the British number four wasted no time wrapping up victory in the decider, showing the clinical edge which saw her reach the quarter-finals of the LTA’s Rothesay Open in Nottingham and the Rothesay Classic Birmingham.
“You can’t control how your opponent plays and how the wind is,” she said.
“During the points the wind was crazy and some of the shots we were both hitting were a bit insane but I always love coming back to Eastbourne, I got my first win here back in 2018 and the crowd are always great.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website.