Heather Watson and Harriet Dart pulled off a long-awaited revenge mission by claiming a significant first round scalp at Wimbledon.
Guernsey player Watson and London-based Dart, who are supported by the LTA’s Pro Access Programme and Pro Scholarship Programme respectively, stunned seventh seeds Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jeļena Ostapenko on a packed-out Court 4 on Friday afternoon.
The British duo triumphed 6-4 3-6 6-4 after holding their nerve in the decider to grab a crucial break at 5-4 up and send the home crowd into raptures.
Dart, 26, and experienced Watson, 31, were beaten by Ukrainian Kichenok and Latvian Ostapenko in the third round at the All England Club last year.
And after the power-packed pair had also got the better of them at the LTA’s Rothesay International Eastbourne under two weeks before that defeat, Dart and Watson revelled in turning the tables 12 months later.
Watson said: “We’ve played those girls a fair few times – they’ve had the better of us in the third set here last year and at Eastbourne last year.
“They’re such a good pair and one of the pairs that hit the ball the hardest.
“It was such a good win today after such a hard draw for us – it was one of the hardest we could have had, so to get through will give us a lot of confidence.
“All round we both played really well and were a great team – we’re always a great team – it was so fun and can’t wait for the second round.
“It’s such a buzz playing in front of a home crowd, especially when they get as involved as they do today.
“We did a great job of using them in that last game, getting them fired up and that helped us over the line in the end.
“It was such a buzz.”
Dart added: “At one moment I was thinking ‘they can’t get us again’.
“We always have really tough matches with them and going into it we knew it was going to be very challenging.
“It was important for us to control what we could control – I’m just super excited and happy to get through.”
Watson has considerable experience when it comes to doubles at Wimbledon after lifting the trophy in the mixed event alongside Finland’s Henri Kontinen back in 2016.
She reached the women’s quarter-finals with German Tatjana Maria in 2018 but has yet to advance beyond the third round since that run to the last eight.
Dart and Watson could meet compatriots Naiktha Bains and Maia Lumsden, who won their first round match in dramatic fashion on Thursday, if both pairs navigate their way through the second round.
But Watson insists they are taking things one step at a time and will not get carried away after their hard-fought opening triumph.
She added: “Whoever we play, we just focus on ourselves – if we do that, we’re such a tough pair to play.
“It doesn’t matter who we play – we just focus on the ball we receive and doing our best on the day.”
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