Tennis-Norrie and Dart triumph as Brits battle at Wimbledon

By Toby Davis

LONDON (Reuters) - Friendships were put to one side and rivalries rekindled as a battle of Britain raged at Wimbledon on Thursday with old-hand Cameron Norrie overcoming young pretender Jack Draper and a teary Harriet Dart outlasting Katie Boulter.

Not since Andy Murray's heyday have British fans arrived at the All England Club confident victory was in the bag. So the guarantee of home success as Britain's number one and two in men's and women's went head to head in back-to-back encounters was something of a rare luxury for those packed into Court One.

With spots in the third round up for grabs, the supposed underdog triumphed in both matches with Norrie comfortably beating Draper 7-6(3) 6-4 7-6(6) shortly after Dart earned a rare 4-6 6-1 7-6(8) victory over Boulter.

Two weeks after losing his British number one ranking to Draper, Norrie set about reminding his younger opponent of the value of experience in the heat of battle.

The 22-year-old Draper had shown the many weapons in his armoury as he won his first Tour-level title at Stuttgart before beating world number three Carlos Alcaraz at Queen's in the leadup to the grasscourt Grand Slam.

That had seen him shoot up the rankings to 28 and earn his first Grand Slam seeding at Wimbledon, but Norrie, a former All England Club semi-finalist, seemed to have a point to prove as he blazed past his younger opponent.

The first set had been an even contest until Norrie noticeably turned up the dial in the tiebreak and if fans had split loyalties until that point, they suddenly seemed to be firmly in Norrie's camp as the 28-year-old raced into a 4-0 lead at the start of the second set with a double break.

Draper briefly fought back with a break of his own, but Norrie was not to be denied.

Draper seemed to have his opponent on the ropes in the third set, breaking for a 4-2 lead with a stunning return, but when Norrie hit back for 5-4, Draper's spirit seemed to wilt.

The third-set tiebreak was tight, but always seemed to be heading in Norrie's favour, with the world number 42 clinching the contest on his second match point when Draper netted a return.

"I feel like when we were playing, he sort of knew all my patterns of play," lamented Draper. "I felt like his backhand was incredible today."


Dart's victory was a far closer encounter and a more emphatic upset.

Born just four days apart, Dart was ranked 68 paces below Boulter at number 100 and possessed a woeful record against her, having won one of their previous seven meetings.

After losing the first set, Dart fought back to take the second in style and then went a break up in the third.

But after Boulter broke back and then went 6-2 up in the tiebreak, the emotion seemed too much for Dart, who was wiping her eyes as she tried to hold back the tears.

That, however, proved a turning point - with Dart winning eight of the last 10 points to wrap up the win.

"These are the kind of losses that sting a little bit," said Boulter.

"They do. There's no other way to put it. I'm going to use it. I'm going to come back stronger."

There was also disappointment for British wildcard Lily Miyazaki who suffered a chastening 6-0 6-0 thrashing by Russia's Daria Kasatkina.

Britain's Jacob Fearnley took a set off Novak Djokovic but there never looked like any realistic prospect of an earth-shattering shock as the 24-time Grand Slam champion prevailed 6-3 6-4 5-7 7-5.

(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Christian Radnedge)