CAPE TOWN – WATCHING Kevin Anderson attain the finals on the 2017 US Open and 2018 Wimbledon tournaments had been thrilling for South African tennis followers.
Unfortunately, Anderson has been battling with accidents since then, however whereas he hopes to resurface on the Miami Open this week, there’s a new star that the entire of Mzansi can shout for.
Lloyd Harris made the world sit up and take discover of his arrival to the massive time in Dubai final week, the place he reached the ultimate of an ATP 500 occasion for the primary time.
The 24-year-old from Cape Town went right down to Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday evening, however had made his mark within the UAE with a sequence of gorgeous victories over high opponents.
Not solely that, however he needed to come by way of qualifying simply to make the principle draw, with a rating of 81. Following his success in Dubai, he shot as much as No 52 this week – his highest ATP slot, having been at No 72 earlier than.
Harris’ giant-killing act began together with his overcome World No 4 Dominic Thiem, which was his first ever win over a top-10 participant. He then dispatched 14th seed Filip Krajinovic, once more in straight units, after which held off former US Open champion Kei Nishikori within the quarter-finals – 6-3 within the third set.
Another big victory got here within the semi-finals, when he beat Canadian hotshot World No 12 Denis Shapovalov 7-6, 4-6, 7-6.
The significance of Harris’ rise in world tennis is two-fold. Firstly, he has needed to work for years to get this level, steadily increase his rating – initially into the highest 100, and now he’s near the highest 50.
That would imply extra invitations to larger occasions, such because the Masters 1000 – such because the Miami Open this week, the place he’ll tackle Andy Murray within the first spherical – and Masters 500 occasions, like in Dubai. With that in fact comes elevated prize money and sponsorships … that are all the time useful for a South African on the European and US circuits.
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The different profit is to the South African Davis Cup group, which is languishing in Group II of the Europe/Africa zone. Anderson has seldom been out there in recent times as he tries to give attention to his personal sport and rating, so having a Davis Cup common in Harris will hopefully lead to South Africa edging in direction of the World Group I within the years to return.
With Harris nonetheless primarily based in Cape Town, he’s totally conscious of the impact that his success can have on children coming by way of the native ranks. He instructed the media in Dubai final week that the help from followers again dwelling has been “amazing”.
“Hopefully this just gives the kids back home some belief, to also get inspired to become a tennis player out of South Africa.
“Ultimately, I’m just trying to showcase what us South Africans can do, and the support from the country, the support from friends and family back home has just been tremendous, so I really appreciate all of the messages, all of the support and all of the hype throughout the week – it’s just been absolutely incredible.”