On Monday, South Africa’s latest tennis sensation Lloyd Harris reached a memorable milestone of being ranked among the world’s top 50 tennis players.
Starting the year in 81st position, the gangling Cape Town big server passed his previous best ranking of 72nd after three months of notable performances in which he beat current United States Open champion and world fourth ranked Dominic Thiem, 12th ranked Denis Shapovalov, three-times grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka and Kai Nishikori, who has been ranked fourth in the world and is a previous US Open grand slam finalist.
In the process, Harris reached his first ATP 500 final in the Doha Open – his second ATP Tour final overall – before going down to the new rising force in world tennis, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev.
Harris started the last ATP rankings two weeks ago two places outside the top 50 ranking positions and although withdrawing from his second round game in the 1000 Miami Open against Spain’s Roberto Battista Agut, a first round win gave him the necessary points to reach the elusive 50 mark.
Harris credits the rising stature he has achieved in world tennis this year to adding Belgian former Wimbledon semi-finalist, Xavier Malisse, to his existing coaching staff.
“A lot of hard work and the experience of playing against and learning from some of the world’s top players,” Harris said.
“It’s all very exciting,” he added, “but there are still areas in which I will need to improve to make further progress in the ranking ladder – and I’m going to continue working hard with this objective in mind.”
Ironically, the player Harris has replaced as South Africa’s number one, former two-time grand slam finalist and one-time world number five, Kevin Anderson, is moving in a disconcerting opposite direction as he battles to overcome the lingering effects of successive injuries over the past three season.
Anderson’s ranking this week plummeted outside the top 100 to 108 place from 91st after a first round Miami Open loss.
Neither Harris nor Anderson are in action in the low point ATP 250 tournaments this week, but are aiming to be fit enough for next week’s high-profile Monte Carlo event as the clay court season gets into full swing.