Britain's Dart ditched by partner for upstart Gauff

The lure of playing with American teenager Cori "Coco" Gauff has proved too strong for Britain's Jay Clarke, who has dumped mixed doubles partner Harriet Dart at the last minute to play alongside the young star.

Gauff, 15, made headlines after becoming the youngest player in the professional era to qualify for the Wimbledon main draw and then beating Venus Williams and 2017 semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova to reach the third round.

Britain's Dart, ranked No. 182 in the world, was left frustrated after she received a text message from Clarke saying he was switching partners ahead of the mixed doubles opening round Thursday.

"Essentially, due to the timing, I wasn't able to find another partner in the time period available," Dart told the Daily Mail. "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 said Gauff had contacted him and asked him if they could play together.

"I've known Cori for a few years now, we got in contact, and she asked me to play," Clarke said. "That was tough. I had to let her know because I saw the pairs that had signed in, and I was thinking 'Am I even going to get in?'

"I think it's the worst decision I have had to make, especially midtournament. I didn't sleep too well the night before I played Noah [Rubin in a first-round singles match], but hopefully she understands why I did it. I'm sorry for her it happened."

Dart, 22, appeared unaffected by the last-minute change of plans, as she earned a place in the third round of the women's singles with a 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-1 win Thursday over Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia.

"I spoke about it yesterday. I'd really just like to talk about my match today. I think that's in the past," said Dart during her postmatch news conference. "Yeah, I think just got to look forward. I'm just concentrating on my singles.

"I think some things you can't control. Just got to focus on the task in hand. That's playing singles. That's all I'm really worried about."

Clarke, 20, lost 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-2 to Roger Federer in the second round Thursday. He will team up with Gauff to face Robert Lindstedt and Jelena Ostapenko in the mixed doubles first round Friday.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.