Dubai Tennis: Harris becomes first qualifier to reach semifinals
Harris, ranked 81 in the world, will now take on third seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada
Lloyd Harris has been living quite the dream so far and the South African continued that, becoming the first qualifier in tournament history to make it to the semifinals of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday night.
Having toppled top seed and world No.4 Dominic Thiem of Austria and Serbian 14th seed Filip Krajinovic in the earlier rounds, the frizzy and long-haired 24-year-old overcame the challenge from 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in an hour and 36 minutes on Centre Court at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre.
Harris, ranked 81 in the world, will now take on third seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who got past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, in the last four.
“I have a few matches under my belt now on this court so it is starting to feel a little bit like my home court, I must stay. I’m just really enjoying it out here. I think I played really well on those break points and that was kind of important to save today,” Harris said courtside, after the match.
“I’ve spent a little bit more time on tour now competing against the top guys. So, I think I just built on a bit of confidence. I’ve worked on many aspects of the game, for sure, but all in all, just playing a little bit better,” he added.
It will be Harris’ first meeting against Shapovalov but the pair had practised together in Dubai two weeks ago.
“He’s been playing some fantastic tennis, really dynamic. I think it is going to be a tough challenge but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve also been playing good so I hope it is going to be a great match,” reckoned the 24-year-old, who is nicknamed the ‘King.’
Shapovalov put an end to Jeremy Chardy’s good run to progress to his first semifinal of the year. The world No.12 beat the Frenchman 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes.
Shapovalov, runner-up to Serbian world No.1 Novak Djokovic at the ATP 1000 Paris Masters in 2019, earned the break in the 11th game to clinch the first set in 45 minutes. He then raised the bar in the second set, achieving the crucial break in the ninth game to serve out the set in 39 minutes, and wrap up the match.
It continued Shapovalov’s dominance over world No.53 Chardy with this being his third victory in three meetings. His previous wins had come at Wimbledon and the ATP 1000 Canada Masters, both in 2018.
Meanwhile, it was a sad end for Chardy, the Wimbledon boys singles champion in 2005, after the 2013 Australian Open quarterfinalist had beaten ninth seeded Australian Alex de Minaur and eighth seed Karen Khachanov of Kazakhstan to reach his fourth quarterfinal of the year.
“Definitely a very tough match. Jeremy was serving and playing really well. And it was really, really tough, fast conditions over here so it was very tough to kind of get a feel on it but I’m happy that I was able to convert those breakpoints when I had the chances,” Shapovalov said after the match.
“I practised with Lloyd actually a couple of weeks ago in Dubai and he’s also a very, very tough player, up and coming. He has a very big serve and really big forehand,” Shapovalov, who sent down 10 aces, said about Harris.
Meanwhile, Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev overcame Italian teenager Jannik Sinner to punch his ticket to the last four.
The world No.42, who had lost to Djokovic in the semifinals of the Australian Open earlier this year, worked off a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2 victory over the 19-year-old in the match-up that lasted two hours and 29 minutes.
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