Wimbledon: Dart’s mixed doubles dream ends at semi-final stage
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Hampstead’s Harriet Dart saw her hopes of a dream Wimbledon mixed doubles final shattered on Court One on Friday.
Dart and fellow British youngster Jay Clarke had enjoyed a stunning run to the semi-finals, but lost to defending champion Jamie Murray and new partner Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-2.
Murray, who was paired with Martina Hingis last year, is now within sight of a second successive Wimbledon mixed doubles title as he and Azarenka face Alexander Peya and Nicole Melichar in the final on Sunday.
Defeat for 19-year-old Clarke and 21-year-old Dart ends one of the stories of the championships from a home point of view as they had never played together before.
They defeated the top seeds on the way to the last four and bow out with their heads held high.
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But Murray and Azarenka were too good for them and Murray said: “It is brilliant, we are really excited to be in the final. We played a really good match from start to finish.
“We didn’t give them a chance and it feels really good.”
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Murray was not intending to play in the mixed doubles as he was focused on trying to win a maiden men’s doubles title with long-time partner Bruno Soares.
But he saw the opportunity to play with former singles world number one Azarenka and could not pass it by, much like 12 months ago when the chance to play with Hingis came up at a late stage.
The Scot admits that he is lucky rather than inspired in his choice of partners.
“The last two years have been total luck because I wasn’t going to play,” he added. “Martina asked me two days before and I couldn’t pass that up.
“And then when I was asked if I want to play with Azarenka I was like, ‘Er...’, because I wasn’t going to play, we wanted to give it all for the men’s and then have no regrets.
“Then I was like, ‘S**t, this is a good opportunity’. It is just luck, I didn’t go in to either tournament looking to play and it has worked out.
“Hopefully we can go that one step further.”
Azarenka has yet to return to the top of the women’s game following the birth of her son and is enjoying some match time.
The Belarussian is also keen to add a senior title to the two junior doubles she won at Wimbledon - in 2004 and 2005.
“I am very happy that we are still playing and we still have another chance to play, matches are money for me right now,” she said.
“He didn’t have to sell it to me, you can tell we are having fun on the court.
“It has been fun and great, all those moments are super important, especially for me after not playing for so long.
“It is my first Wimbledon final in any event, I won doubles here twice in juniors so I hope I can take that step on the professional tour.”