‘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 that left her British rival Harriet Dart fuming at umpiring she described as “pretty appalling”.

Boulter fought back from a set down to win 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 in a marathon first-round match in which her opponent called in the tournament referee over disputed line calls.

An incensed Dart was involved in a running battle with the British 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.

“It was difficult,” Boulter said. “I know there was a lot going on and I was just trying to focus on myself and not get too involved in a situation. There are some tough calls but they go both ways, they don’t just go one way. Half of tennis is keeping your cool and staying patient. I’m very, very proud of the way I handled today. I felt like I stayed calm the whole time and that’s really what won me the match.”

Boulter and Dart have history in Nottingham after an equally lively quarter-final last year in which the defeated ­Londoner accused Boulter of being ­unprofessional with some of her on‑court gestures at the net.

This time around,the umpire was on the receiving end. “It was pretty ­appalling,” Dart said. “We need to move to electronic line calling every­where. There’s too many disruptions – not just for me, for both of us. A few points here or there can really change a match.”

Simmering throughout, she exploded in the second set after another tight line call went against her. The exchange with Rask, with Dart trailing 4-2 in the seventh game, unfolded when Dart said: “The ball is so far out, this is embarrassing. You’re embarrassing yourself.” Rask replied: “Harriet, watch it.”

Dart said: “You should be embarrassed.” She then placed a ball on the ground six inches behind the line. “It was here, no joke, everyone here knows it.” Rask replied: “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, who arrived at the next changeover, and Dart claimed: “If we watch that back I can promise you, I would bet £50,000 that ball was 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 7-5 on the tie-break.

Boulter, though, had the ­calmness not to panic. Though the windy conditions caused problems with her serving, she found a way to win.

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 prevailed after 3hr 13min.

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