“I work very hard week in, week out” – Harriet Dart is coming of age as she breaks new ground at the French Open
Harriet Dart is enjoying a standout season having reached the last 16 of Indian Wells and the main draw at the French Open but what’s next for the British player?
Tennishead caught up with London born Harriet Dart as she prepared for her first attempt at the ladies singles at Roland Garros.
Is your game style suited to clay court tennis?
I’m a work in progress on the clay having not been brought up on the surface like some of the players from Spain or South America. But Roland Garros clay is a lot faster than some other courts so hopefully I can do well here.
Do you find players being more aggressive at Roland Garros because of the speed of the courts?
Yes and I think the game as a whole is becoming more aggressive with players hitting faster. The misconception with clay is that you have to stand 10 meters behind the baseline and grind out every point but actually the players who do the best are super aggressive.
Are players more aggressive because of their physicality or is it their mental attitude that’s changed?
The women’s game is continually progressing and becoming more physical with a lot of players in very good shape and using their physicality as best they can. The points are getting longer. A few years ago I felt it was all about 3 – 4 shot rallies but now the rallies seem longer with a lot of big hitters on the tour trying to be more aggressive.
Are you still buzzing after your superb run at Indian Wells where you made it to the last 16 scoring some notable wins against the likes of Elina Svitolina along the way?
I definitely feel I’ve made a lot of progress this year having achieved my big goal of making it into the main draw at Roland Garros, which is a reward for my good results.
For me now it’s about being consistent week in week out and consistently putting in good performances against great players which is going to take time.
Now its about getting my bearings at new tournaments like being here in the main draw at the French Open as I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights! I don’t know where anything is but its important to start to feel comfortable at these events which will hopefully become the norm.
Was your great performance at Indian Wells down to a specific aspect of your game that just clicked or was it more due to a build up of hard work?
From the outside it might look like I suddenly had a breakthrough week out of nowhere but at the same time but I’ve been on the tour for a while now and I work very hard week in week out so its nice to see that I can beat some of the big players
I’m also very happy off the court which helps me feel more comfortable on the court which is a big thing. This tennis life isn’t for everyone as it’s challenging to live out of your suitcase.
Indian Wells was a weird but great two weeks being the first time I’d ever played there, so I’m trying to be a sponge and learn from practicing with the players and you’re so well taken care of so I managed to feel quite comfortable and play well.
My improvement is a down to combination of a lot of things. In the past I’ve had multiple injuries so to play the big events after working towards it all my life is great. No-one is going to give you anything at this level and you need to be ready physically and mentally because the margins between winning a losing are small.
Are you getting to the stage in your career where you feel more comfortable on the WTA Tour after having to mature quickly?
You do have to mature very quickly and every week you have to deal with losses. At a Grand Slam with only one winner there are 127 losers and you have to be able to pick yourself up and be ready for the following week’s tournament. But actually in tennis you do always have another opportunity (to win) just the following week.
Having beaten both US Open finalists last year in Raducanu and Fernandez, does that also give you a boost?
It’s clear that everyone can beat anyone on their day so for me it’s about trying to be more consistent. Of course it gave me confidence but I’m my own person on my own trajectory and your ranking doesn’t lie.
I know I can play at a great level but until you get the results how much do you actually believe in that? Which is why Indian Wells was such a big week for me because I was able to consistently produce really good tennis against great players.
Check out Harriet’s Instagram to keep a watch on her life on the professional tennis circuit
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