Two of Britain’s singles players in Thursday’s second-round have fallen out after one of them dumped the other in mixed doubles, almost Love Island-style, for rising American star Coco Gauff.
Harriet Dart was bitterly disappointed after receiving a text on Monday night from Jay Clarke, saying that he was switching partners – despite the fact that the all-Brit team reached the semi-finals a year ago.
Dart, Britain’s second highest ranked doubles player, was left high and dry without someone to play with when the 20 year-old from Derby, who plays Roger Federer today, made the late decision.
Jay Clarke ruthlessly ditched his British compatriot Harriet Dart for the mixed doubles
The 22 year-old from Middlesex was trying to rise above her frustration when she spoke to Sportsmail, but left no doubt about her feelings.
‘Essentially due to the timing I wasn’t able to find another partner in the time period available,’ said Dart, who plays singles on Thursday against Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia.
‘I did ask a number of people but a lot of them were set up and that’s it. I think you should ask Jay about his reasons, that’s all I want to say.’
Clarke’s switch to Gauff, who made a huge splash when she beat Venus Williams on Monday, has been a hot subject among many senior figures in the British game.
Several have consoled Dart, whose tournament could finish on Thursdau after losing in the women’s doubles on Wednesday.
Fed Cup Captain Anne Keothavong was among those less than impressed.
Dart said there was not enough time left for her to find another mixed doubles partner
‘I’m gutted for Harriet, she is such a good doubles player and deserved to play, especially after making the semi-finals with him last year,’ she told Sportsmail.
‘For her to learn like that with so little time before the draw to find someone else – it really could have been handled better.’
Clarke, who pronounced himself fit after an injury scare in the men’s doubles, was apologetic later but saw it as a transaction in what is often a ruthless world of partners dumping each other.
‘I’ve known Cori for a few years now, we got in contact and she asked me to play,’ he said, explaining his awkwardness about ditching Dart.
‘That was tough, I had to let her know because I saw the pairs that had signed in, and I was “am I even going to get in?”
But they would have got a wildcard anyway.
Cori Gauff is to replace Dart and she is through to the third round of the singles
Asked if he felt sorry for his former partner he replied: ‘100 per cent, I think it’s the worst decision I have had to make especially mid tournament, I didn’t sleep too well the night before I played Noah (in the first round) but hopefully she understands why I did it.
‘I tried to see it from her position if obviously Rog or someone asked her to play I would take it. I spoke to her about it again today but it was late (on Monday) so I sent her a message, I waited for the reply.
‘Those things are never easy. I have been pushed out of cuts this year six times at 11.59 when people chop and change partners just to get in the draw. It’s the first time I’ve had to do it and I’m sorry for her it happened.’