Harriet Dart becomes the SIXTH British player to qualify for the Australian Open. She joins Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu in the main draw after beating Kimberly Birrell in straight sets
- Harriet Dart has booked her place in the main draw of the Australian Open
- Dart defeated Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-3, 6-3 in her final qualifier
- With the win, Dart became Britain’s sixth representative at the Australian Open
- She joins Sir Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu in the main draw
Harriet Dart is the latest in a stream of British tennis stars to qualify for the Australian Open as she secured her place in the first Grand Slam of the season on Friday morning.
Dart – who will make his fifth Grand Slam appearance in Melbourne – defeated Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-3, 6-3.
The British number three, who ranks 125th in the world, took victory in the final round of Australian Open qualifiers, losing just one set in her three matches.
Harriet Dart has booked her place in the main draw of the Australian Open on Friday morning
Dart – who will play in a Grand Slam for the fifth time – defeated Australian Kimberly Birrell 6-3, 6-3
Dart joins five other British stars in the main draw of the Melbourne tournament as the action kicks off Monday.
Sir Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans will all compete in the men’s singles, while Emma Raducanu and Heather Watson will compete in the women’s main draw.
Later on Friday, British number four Liam Broady also has a chance to qualify when he takes on Russian Roman Safiullin.
It is the third time in four years that Dart has successfully negotiated qualification at Melbourne Park – reaching the second round in 2020 before losing to Simona Halep – while also making it to the US Open twice.
Asked about her record, Dart said with a smile: “It goes to show that I don’t have to qualify anymore and put myself in a position where I can immediately be, because playing three games against good players is never easy.”
The British number three lost just one set in her three qualifying matches in Melbourne
She joins Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu in the main draw of the tournament
Both players struggled to hold onto serve, Birrell only managed twice in the match but Dart fought well, twice due to a second set failure.
“I’m just super happy and glad I got through it,” she said. “I always knew it was going to be a very tough game. We’re good friends and we’ve practiced a lot together, but we’ve never played a game.
“I think I benefited from playing here last week, I played three games under these conditions. I think my experience is that I’ve been here twice before, so I definitely think that helped me today.”
Dart started working with British Dave Collins after having mainly been mentored by Eastern European coaches so far in her career.
With Covid numbers soaring in Melbourne, the 25-year-old is playing it safe and sticking to takeaways in her hotel room – with seafood restaurant Hunky Dory her favourite.
She said: ‘It’s definitely still quite a challenge. My biggest concern is more that I don’t want to test positive and then be stuck here and not be able to go home. I’m just as careful as possible.’