‘I bet £50k that ball is out’: Dart rows with umpire in loss to Katie Boulter

Katie Boulter came through a contentious opening to her Rothesay Open title defence in Nottingham after a marathon contest against her British teammate Harriet Dart.

The British No 1 fought back from a set down to win 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 in a first-round match in which her opponent called in the tournament referee after a series of disputed line calls.

An incensed Dart was involved in a running battle with the umpire Kelly Rask over a series of calls that went against her, including one that was overturned and another that was replayed.

Boulter, who broke into the world’s top 30 for the first time after her first WTA 500 tournament victory in San Diego this year, kept her cool admirably in trying circumstances to progress.

She and Dart had history in Nottingham having been involved in an equally lively quarter-final last year in which the beaten Londoner accused Boulter of being unprofessional with some of her on-court gestures at the net.

This time around it was the umpire who was on the receiving end. Simmering throughout, Dart exploded towards the end of the second set after another tight line call went against her.

The exchange with Rask started when Dart said: “The ball is so far out, this is embarrassing. You’re embarrassing yourself.”

Rask replied: “Harriet, watch it.”

Dart: “You should be embarrassed.” She then placed a ball down on the ground six inches behind the line. “It was here, no joke, everyone here knows it.”

Rask: “Harriet stop now or you’re going to get a code. I’ve had enough now. That’s it.”

Dart then called for the tournament referee, claiming: “If we watch that back I can promise you, I would back £50,000 that ball is out. I’d shake your hand now. It’s a joke how far that was out.”

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Dart tested Rask’s patience further by sarcastically checking with her whether a ball that landed a comfortable two yards over the baseline was out. The tenacious Dart, who played some terrific defensive tennis, had threatened an upset after taking the opening set tie-break 7-5.

Boulter, though, had the calmness not to panic. While she did not play at her best – the windy conditions caused problems with her serving – she found her way to the finish line.

The key moment came with a break to 30 on the Dart serve in the 11th game of the deciding set that offered her the chance to serve out. Dart saved two match points before Boulter finally did so after three hours and 13 minutes.

Heather Watson also came back from a set down to secure a 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 victory against America’s Kayla Day.

The Guardian

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