Cluj and Doha doubles finals defeated Heather Watson and Harriet Dart

British tennis fans endured a double dose of disappointment as both Heather Watson and Harriet Dart suffered narrow defeats in their respective WTA doubles finals over the weekend. While both played with impressive grit and determination, ultimately they were unable to cross the finish line and claim their first titles of the season.

Watson, partnering with German Laura Siegemund, looked poised for victory in the Transylvania Open final in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The Anglo-German duo took the first set convincingly, 6-2, displaying excellent coordination and aggressive shot-making. However, their momentum stalled in the second set as the Romanian pair of Irina Bara and Elena-Gabriela Ruse found their rhythm, ultimately clinching it 6-4. The deciding super tie-break proved nerve-wracking, with the lead changing hands frequently.

Watson and Siegemund held three championship points at 9-8, but the Romanians dug deep, saving match points and eventually converting one of their own to close out the match 10-8.

“It’s obviously disappointing to lose in the final,” admitted Watson. “We had a good chance in the super tie-break, but they played some great points when it mattered most. We played well overall, and I’m confident we can build on this performance in the upcoming tournaments.”

Across the continent, Dart experienced similar heartbreak in the Qatar TotalEnergies Open final in Doha. Partnering with Taiwanese Su-Wei Hsieh, they faced the formidable duo of former world number one Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic and Su-Wei Hsieh’s fellow countrywoman Shuai Zhang.

The match was a tight affair from the start, with both pairs serving aggressively and showcasing impressive volleying skills. However, Pliskova and Zhang’s experience proved crucial in the critical moments. They clinched the first set 6-3 and then held their nerve in the second, winning 7-5 despite facing break points late in the set. “It’s tough to lose so close, but I played some of my best doubles this week,” said Dart. “Playing with Su-Wei was a fantastic experience, and we learned a lot from each other. I’m proud of our performance, and I’m confident that we can achieve great things together in the future.”

While both Watson and Dart will be understandably disappointed with their final losses, their performances over the weekend were encouraging signs of their progression in doubles.

Watson, currently ranked 32nd in the world in doubles, has been steadily improving her doubles game and has established herself as a solid contender on the WTA Tour. Her partnership with Siegemund, ranked 14th in the world, has the potential to challenge for titles in the coming months.

Similarly, Dart’s rise in doubles rankings (currently 115th) is noteworthy. Her pairing with the highly experienced Hsieh, ranked 14th in the world, was a bold move, and their chemistry on court was evident. This experience will undoubtedly benefit Dart’s doubles game in the long run.

Both Watson and Dart are still relatively young in their doubles careers, and these final appearances, despite the defeats, represent significant milestones in their development. With continued dedication and improvement, they are likely to find themselves back in the winner’s circle soon, bringing further success to British doubles tennis.