ATP Tour

Lloyd Harris holds nerve to notch impressive win at Madrid Open

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Lloyd Harris. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Lloyd Harris. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

South African tennis star Lloyd Harris advanced to the second round of the Madrid Open on Monday after an impressive win over Bulgarian 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Harris won a tight encounter 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) in two hours and 31 minutes.

The South African, currently ranked 54th in the world, started the match like a house on fire and appeared to be coasting to the finish line when he led by a set and a break.

However, an untimely lower back injury slowed down Harris' progress and enabled Dimitrov to take the second set.

When Harris received a medical timeout at the end of the second set, a win appeared a long shot.

But the Capetonian bounced back, and after initially staving off break points, he claimed the first break of serve in the decider.

While leading 5-2 and 40-0 up on Dimitrov's serve, Harris could not convert any of the three match points and then faltered while serving for the contest at 5-3.

But Harris regained his composure to force a tie-break. He then squandered two more match points while leading 6-3 in the tie-break, but eventually capitalised on his own serve to claim a memorable win against the world No 17.

It was only Harris' second ever win at Masters 1000 level, following on from his first round win at the Miami Open earlier this year where he cracked the ATP top 50 for the first time.

The South African next faces Australia's Alex de Minaur, who is ranked 24th in the world.

Last week, Harris opened his clay season with a first round defeat to Italian Marco Cecchinato at the ATP 250-level event in Estoril.

South Africa's other singles ace, Kevin Anderson, is not in action at the Madrid Open.

Anderson made the quarter-finals at last week's Estoril Open but pulled out injured after losing the first set 7-6 (9/7) to Croatia's Marin Cilic.

South African doubles star Raven Klaasen and his Japanese partner Ben McLachlan were eliminated in the semi-finals in Estoril, losing 3-6, 6-4, 14-12 to Hugo Nys of Monaco and Germany's Tim Puetz.

Klaasen and McLachlan, who were the second seeds in Estoril, opted not to enter the Madrid event.

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