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Harriet Dart reaches Transylvania quarters, Heather Watson loses in Abu Dhabi

Dart reaches Transylvania quarters, Watson loses in Abu Dhabi
© Reuters
Harriet Dart pulls off a spectacular comeback to reach the quarter-finals of the Transylvania Open, but Heather Watson falls to defeat in Abu Dhabi.

Great Britain's Harriet Dart pulled off a remarkable comeback to reach the quarter-finals of the Transylvania Open with a three-set win over Italian fifth seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

The world number 103 looked down and out having fallen a set and a break down in Thursday's second-round match, but she held her nerve to prevail 5-7 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes.

Frustration was apparent for both players early doors, as Dart earned the first break of the contest before Cocciaretto rallied to win five of the next six games and take the opener, saving three set points along the way.

The Italian was ostensibly en route to a straightforward win as she roared into a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Dart found a sixth gear and cut out the unforced errors to remarkably level the match, breaking the Italian three times.

With the momentum on her side, the British number three - who is set to break back into the top 100 of the WTA rankings - won four of the first five games of the deciding set, and even though Cocciaretto earned one break back, Dart responded immediately and concluded an engrossing contest on her second match point.

"I had some set points in the first set, wasn't able to convert, but I thought she played good on the big points," BBC Sport quotes Dart as saying after she set up a quarter-final with Spain's Nuria Parrizas Diaz.

Heather Watson in action at Wimbledon in July 2023© Reuters

"It's such small margins in tennis. There's always a chance and you just have to keep fighting. I got a small bit of a chance and I was able to take it.

"I'm just trying to build on each match. It's been great to get lots of matches through the qualifying here, get used to the [hard court] surface."

However, there was no such joy for Dart's compatriot Heather Watson, who lost to Cristina Bucsa 6-7[1] 5-7 in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Open.

As is the case with Dart, Watson also came through qualifying to reach the main draw of her event and laid down a marker in her opening contest, eliminating ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets.

The 31-year-old saved four break points before Bucsa managed to take her fifth such opportunity, and while a break back to love from Watson in the 10th game forced a tie-breaker, a capitulation at the worst time saw her win just one point in the first-set decider.

Watson did not go down waving the white flag and broke first for a 3-2 lead in the second, but she lost serve immediately afterwards before being fatally broken for a second time while trying to stay in the match.

Bucsa - who entered the main draw as a lucky loser - has been rewarded for her one hour and 43-minute success with a quarter-final showdown against top seed Elena Rybakina.

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