Harriet Dart complained about Katie Boulter’s victory celebration after the battle of the Britons in the quarter-finals of the Rothesay Open.
After a straight-sets win for Boulter – who has shown the stronger form all season – Dart was irked by her opponent’s behaviour as they came together at the net.
Boulter had pointed to her forehead – something that the former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka has been doing for years, and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has also adopted over the past year.
If this sporting cliche has a meaning, it would be something like “See what I can do when I’m focused?” Hardly insulting, you would think.
But as the two players performed a chilly handshake, Dart said “I thought you were doing it towards me.” Boulter said “It’s not personal,” to which Dart replied “It’s not professional.” Boulter then walked away saying “I do it every single match.”
Rivalry between Britain’s women can be a positive if it pushes them on, and there was an encouraging edge to this clash.
Although Dart has generally been ranked higher than Boulter over the past four years, this appears to be a poor match-up for her. She was born four days before her opponent, so they have been crossing paths from an early age – with the added ingredient that their mothers were also rivals on the British circuit a quarter-century earlier.
Dart is a mobile player who can redirect the ball nicely, but her consistent game seems to click Boulter into an equally reliable rhythm. This was the fifth time they have played at senior level, and the fourth time that Boulter – who is taller, stronger, and hits the ball harder – had triumphed.
Dart was complaining about line calls all the way through her 6-3, 7-5 defeat, and also called a medical time-out during the second set to address a hip issue. She managed to fight off five match points as Boulter tightened up at the end, but eventually missed a backhand to conclude the entertainment.
Afterwards, Boulter took issue with critical press coverage – as she saw it – of the recent absence of any British women from grand-slam events (not withstanding the wild-card invitations to Wimbledon that will be handed out by the All England Club).
“There was a lot of talk about if we had the next players coming up from a lot of the press,” Boulter told the on-court interviewer, “and I feel like we’ve really shown this week there’s a lot of depth in British tennis. I hope we keep looking at that and thinking of the positives.”
It was another remarkable day for the home contingent in Nottingham. Jodie Burrage had earlier gritted out a three-set win over Magdalena Frech. And then, after the Dart-Boulter encounter, Watson overcame Viktorija Golubic to carry three British women into the semi-finals of a WTA event for the first time since Virginia Wade, Sue Barker and Glynis Coles at the 1975 Paris Indoors.
Murray maintains bid for Wimbledon seed
Meanwhile, Andy Murray continued his unbeaten run on the grass as he overcame Dominic Stricker, a talented 20-year-old lefty from Switzerland, by a 7-6, 7-5 scoreline in Nottingham. The result means that Murray is likely to be a part of the world’s top 40 when the next set of rankings are published on Monday, for the first time since his hip exploded in 2017.
“Really, really tight match today against one of the best young players in the world,” said Murray after wrapping up his win in 1hr 48min. “He has a really good game, huge shots from the back of the court but also really nice touch up at the net. That’s the best I’ve played in the last two weeks, I was hitting the ball really well.”
Murray has won eight straight matches in that time, dropping only a single set along the way. If he continues his form, he should be able to secure his next goal: a seeding at Wimbledon in just over a fortnight’s time.