The 17-year-old prodigy stunned world No.147 Dart 6-0, 6-3 to book her place in the women’s final on Sunday with a majestic performance at St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club.
Dart’s patience was tested throughout the match as she struggled for the form that saw her reach the third round at Wimbledon last year, littering her game with unforced errors as Raducanu blew her away. Dart allegedly had regular pops at both her opponent and the umpire but Raducanu, still a teenager, says she thrives under that atmosphere.
“It did get a bit intense and there were a few comments,” she said.
“In the heat of the battle you say and do things that you don’t necessarily mean, so you can’t really look that deep into it. A lot of the stuff was at her end so I couldn’t hear, and I just heard from my coach that there were a lot of comments. She would walk past me and she would say something under her breath. I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but when that happens they’re under pressure.”
“That’s how I take it – when they’re coming out with all of this stuff trying to disrupt your rhythm, I take it as they’re trying to vent their energy and they’re just channelling into me. So she’s actually feeling the pressure, and I was enjoying it. For sure! [I thrive off that]”
Raducanu kept her cool to sparkle under the glittering Weybridge lights, delivering a memorable performance to tee up a clash against British No.7 Jodie Burrage. Dart was at far from her fluent best in the last four bout, getting ‘stuffed’ in straight sets after struggling with a groin injury through lockdown.
The British No.3 played down any talk of on-court tension and says she won’t be losing any sleep over the outcome.
“I got stuffed love and three, so I’m not sure how it could be tense!” the 24-year-old said.
“I’m not going to dwell on this at all. It’s one match and one match doesn’t define you.
“Your ranking defines where you’re at. It will be interesting once we get back to the main tour.”
Burrage will meet Raducanu on Sunday after beating Eden Silva in her semi-final, with Silva retiring through injury when Burrage was well-placed at 6-2, 1-0 up.
Liam Broady was forced to go to the ‘trenches’ against James Ward but reckons his resilience is the asset that’s placed him in the final. The British No.6 won a semi-final epic against the experienced Ward, clinching the super tie-break 10-7 to book a date with Ryan Peniston. Broady had to dig deep to come from behind but says if there’s one thing he represents as a tennis player, it’s graft and determination.
“Against guys like James, he makes you have to go to the trenches and fight it out,” the 26-year-old said. You have to just try and stay quiet, keep focused and concentrate on doing what it takes to win. I think one thing people would say that I am, and I do sometimes, is grind out a few wins in tough situations. It happened again today – I felt good out there and came away with the win.”
Peniston toppled Dan Cox in a thrilling encounter in the day’s second semi-final, winning his tie-break ‘buster’ by the same margin as Broady to end the 29-year-old’s winning streak. Cox had impressed in the pool stages and took the first set 7-5, before British No.11 Peniston restored parity – with a 6-0 win – and then held his nerve when it mattered.
24 leading players in the widely-billed Premier League of tennis were whittled down to eight ahead of semi-final Saturday, with the likes of Naomi Broady, Sarah Beth Grey, Arthur Fery and Anton Matusevich all featuring in the original draw.
The innovative format was devised by Andy Murray’s coach, Jamie Delgado, with players on Classic Week being split into two boxes of six ahead of finals weekend on August 15th and 16th. Julian Cash continued his brilliant run of form in tie-breaks with a 10-6 triumph over Alastair Gray, while Luke Johnson toppled Mark Whitehouse 7-6, 7-6 in one of the day’s other early games.
Billy Harris produced a gutsy display to beat Fery 10-5 in his tie-break, marking his 41st consecutive day playing in Weybridge in style. The Isle of Man star has played in every individual qualifying week of the series since July 6 and is showing no signs of fatigue in Surrey, beating Broady on Wednesday, and now Fery, to outline all his physical fortitude.
Henry Patten beat tournament newcomer Tom Hands in straight sets while on the women’s side, Emily Appleton beat Sonay Kartal on a tie-break and Freya Christie bounced back from her Friday defeat with a win over Nadia Rawson. Emily Arbuthnott beat Eliz Maloney after the 20-year-old retired hurt – with Arbuthnott one set up at the time – while Naomi Broady beat Grey 10-7 in a super tie-break in the final game of the day.