New York - In arguably the biggest match of his career, rising South African tennis star Lloyd Harris beat JC Aragone of the USA on Friday to qualify for the US Open main draw next week.
The match on Court 6 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre lasted 1 hour and 16 minutes and was played in a sweltering 28 degrees Celsius temperature.
Harris defeated Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador 7-6, 6-3 in the first round of the qualifying draw, and downed Sebastian Ofner from Austria in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 in the second round.
The 21-year-old Harris from Cape Town has been in fine form during the American hard-court summer season winning his first Challenger in Lexington, three weeks ago.
Harris also reached the Challenger final in Aptos and quarter-finals of Binghamton and Vancouver.
"I really felt confident coming into the qualifying here in New York after a great couple of weeks where I won my first Challenger. I am really feeling good about my game and I am proud of myself that I have kept the momentum going," said Harris following victory.
Harris did not drop a set this week in all three rounds to qualify for the 138th edition of the US Open Grand Slam.
Harris said that the win in the third round of the qualifying to earn a spot in the main draw of the US Open was one of his biggest wins.
"You work so hard for moments like this. My ranking has improved, I'm fit, and I am striking the ball well, so I knew I had a good chance to qualify but had to keep the focus and composure to get the job done," he said.
For Harris the US Open has just begun.
"Now that I have qualified I will wait to see who I play in the main draw come Monday or Tuesday and have to step my game up a gear, work hard this weekend to be well prepared for the first round. The tournament has actually just begun for me, now I have to pull out the big game and do the best I can for myself, my family, team and country."
Harris joins Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen as the only South Africans in the main draw of the US Open.
It's been some time since South Africa has had a second men's singles player in a Grand Slam main draw, which is welcome news for the tennis fans back in South Africa.
The 2018 US Open Championships will be held from August 27-September 9 at Flushing Meadows.