July 06, 2019
Harriet Dart’s Wimbledon came to an end in just 53 minutes as the challenge of competing against the World No 1, Ashleigh Barty, proved just too much for the Briton.
Barty won 6-1, 6-1 without ever really having to engage in the contest. Simply being consistent in her power and placement was enough to push Dart to breaking point. The 22-year-old Londoner can at least take consolation from her best ever grand slam performance in the singles. For the Australian, she goes into the second week in good shape and with energy in the tank.
Ashleigh Barty powers past Harriet Dart into Wimbledon last 16
There was a delayed start the match, as Centre Court was introduced to a bevy of sporting stars in the Royal Box, from Rod Laver to Gareth Southgate and the England netball captain, Ama Agbeze. When play did get under way Barty cruised into an early lead without having to do much at all.
Dart served up two double faults in her opening service game. The first could perhaps by explained away, thanks to the sudden passing overhead of the Red Arrows. The second, however, coming with the game at deuce, not so much. Barty broke with a fierce forehand return and the pattern was set.
The French Open champion broke again immediately and, under no pressure on her own service, cruised to a 5-0 lead in the first set. Then finally came some succour for Dart, as she ground out a service game. Able for once to trust her first serve, she forced Barty backwards and when a backhand drifted wide to give Dart the game and cut the lead to 5-1, the crowd enjoyed a lusty cheer. Any noise was quickly subdued; Barty served two aces on the way to wrapping up the first set in double-quick time.
Another untimely double fault from Dart, at 15-30, followed by an overly gentle backhand that drifted sadly into the net allowed Barty to break again immediately in the second set.
It was difficult to draw too much insight as to the relative strengths and weaknesses of the players in such a one-sided affair but an absence of the necessary power in her ground strokes consistently left Dart struggling to keep even within touching distance of the world No 1.
Ashleigh Barty powers past Harriet Dart into Wimbledon last 16
Dart held another service game at 0-4 to pep up the crowd, just when every disappointment had begun to be met with sighs of expectation. If it felt a bit like Barty had taken her eye off matters, the feeling was confirmed when Dart raced to three break points at 1-4. On the other hand, maybe Barty was just looking to set herself a handicap. She played the most impressive strokes of the match, including two wonderful back-hand slices in succession to win the point at 0-40, to claw her way back to hold.
The final service game was a formality and now the American Alison Riske awaits Barty in the fourth round.
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