Lloyd Harris to take SA No 1 spot from Kevin Anderson ... no matter what happens at Aussie Open

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Lloyd Harris. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Lloyd Harris. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

No matter what happens from this point as the current Australian Open drama continues at Melbourne Park, Lloyd Harris will become the number one South African in the world rankings when the next ATP rankings are announced on February 22 - and thereby also take over from Kevin Anderson as South Africa's number one in TSA's South African rankings.

This situation of some pointed significance will emerge as a result of the 23-year-old Harris making his first appearance in a Grand Slam third round in Melbourne, in which he is due to face the United States' Mackenzie McDonald, with the long-serving, big-serving Anderson already having made a first-round, straight sets exit from the tournament against Italy's formidable Matteo Berrettini.

Going into the Australian Open, the 34-year-old Anderson, a one-time world number five, was placed 81st in the ATP rankings as the top South African, with Harris in 91st position.

Now, after victories over Mikael Torpegaard and Alexei Popyrin in the opening two rounds, Harris's world ranking position has effectively been elevated to 80th, with Anderson's position deteriorating to 84th.

And when the new rankings are officially announced by the ATP in 10 days, Anderson will in no way be able to improve his present points tally, while Harris cannot feature worse than 80th place.

Harris, meanwhile, is faced with the possibility of equalling or improving on his world best ranking of 72nd should he beat McDonald - and making dramatic impact in tennis circles should he then go beyond the fourth round.

So what are the prospects of the up-and-coming Harris setting up a new high point to his career when he faces McDonald? Well the American is ranked a modest 192nd, but he demonstrated an escalating, striking improvement by eliminating 22nd seeded Borna Coric in the second round in Melbourne and it could be a case of which of two big servers serve bigger and better.

As to a possible fourth round opponent for the winner of the Harris-McDonald clash, it will either be the in-form, fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev, who is among the tournament's favourites, or 28th-seeded Filip Krajinovic.

An awesome task indeed!

But whatever happens for Harris from this point, reaching the third round and overtaking Anderson as South Africa's number one are notable achievements in the right direction for the Cape Town-based prospect.

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