2015 Aegon International

Debutant Dart fails to hit the bullseye

Cilbulkova takes out Dart

Harriet Dart, the 18-year-old Londoner, was thrown into the cauldron at Eastbourne and fell in straight sets to Dominika Cilbulkova in 80 minutes.

The battling Brit, who was only awarded a wildcard into the main draw after compatriot Laura Robson turned it down, had no real chance of causing an upset against the experienced Slovak.

Former British #1 Robson opted to get some much-needed practice in Qualifying, but her long layoff from the circuit showed that she was rusty and nowhere near ready for the rigours of the WTA Tour. But Dart is making her start on the circuit and showed some fighting spirit before slumping to a 6-1 6-23 defeat.

She lost all of her opening set service games but did manage to break her illustrious opponent to only trail 2-1.

But the second set was a different contest with marathon games with Dart overcoming her initial nerves. Both players staved off three break points on their opening service games but then twice dropped their serves to square up at 3-3.

Cilbulkova took her time to find her groove in the glorious sunshine to finally polish off the youngster with three games on the bounce.

Cibulkova, who peaked to a personal best world ranking of #10 during last year’s breakthrough season, was enthusiastic about her first match since undergoing the knife in March for an Achilles problem.

She said: “If someone told me before the tournament that I would win my first match then I would take it, no matter what.

“My foot felt very good so it didn’t feel like I hadn’t played for four months. There’s no pain now, so I’m obviously really happy.”

The world #49 faces Czech star Lucie Safarova, the #3 and highest seed in the top half of the draw now that her compatriot Petra Kvitova has withdrawn for the season season on the trot.

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