ATP Tour

SA's top young gun Harris ends 6-month slump

Lloyd Harris (Reg Caldecott)
Lloyd Harris (Reg Caldecott)

Cape Town - While some will cynically suggest that he has had to go backward to move forward again, top young South African tennis player, 21-year-old Lloyd Harris, has emphatically ended a six-month slump since he acquired a breakthrough, career-best ATP world ranking of 199 midway through 2018.

After dropping disconcertingly to a mark as low as the mid-340s in the world rankings, Harris is now back to 242nd after successive tournament victories in Portugal.

The drawback to the recent impressive performances by the 1.93m Harris is that they were achieved in ITF Futures tournaments - effectively the third division on the international circuit - after he had tentatively and with only limited success attempted to make his mark in ATP World Tour and Challenger tournaments last year.

But it was probably the loss to veteran Dudi Sela in the key game of the 3-2 Euro-Africa Group One Davis Cup defeat against Israel at the Irene Country Club eight weeks ago that suggested Harris still had some way to go before breaking into the big-time mainstream.

Harris, however, has demonstrated a degree of grit, determination and character in picking up the pieces and bouncing back in the Portuguese tournaments and launching a renewed sortie against a higher level of World Tour opposition.

It should also be pointed out that injuries played no small part in Harris' encouraging progress coming to a halt and he could be better equipped the second time around.

But even at the age of 21 Harris will soon have to make his mark as a potential top bracket world-class performer - with Alexander Zverev (ranked fourth in the world at the age of 20), Hyeon Chung (19th in the world at 21), Nick Kyrgios (24th at 22), and Denis Shapovalov (18 years-old) setting the bench mark for a whole host of up-and-coming players who are already able to hold their own with the best players in the world.

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