Birmingham Classic: Heather Watson & Harriet Dart out of doubles, top seed Elise Mertens loses


Heather Watson and Harriet Dart last played doubles in 2019

Heather Watson and Harriet Dart were beaten by fellow Briton Naiktha Bains and Czech Tereza Martincova 4-6 6-3 10-5 in the Birmingham Classic doubles first round.

Watson, 29, is still in the singles and faces fifth seed Zhang Shuai for a spot in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

China’s Zhang lost to Britain’s Johanna Konta in the Nottingham Open last week.

Belgian top seed Elise Mertens, 25, was beaten 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) by Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.

But second seed Ons Jabeur advanced, with the 26-year-old Tunisian beating America’s Caty McNally 6-4 6-2 on her debut at the tournament.

“I like playing on grass – I like all the slicing, but it takes some time to get used to and I feel like I’m on a football pitch,” she said.

“There are no grass courts in Tunisia, only football fields. Maybe I can play on those!”

Towards the end of the day, Russian fourth seed Daria Kasatkina had to come from a set down against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog to win 4-6 6-3 6-3 to make it three out of the top four seeds to advance.

Play starts at 11:00 on Wednesday, with Watson and Zheng scheduled last on the Ann Jones Court.

Watson is still looking for back-to-back wins in 2021, and until last week in Nottingham, 32-year-old Zhang had won just one match this season.

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