Lisbon - Lloyd Harris jetted into Lisbon on Monday to
join his South Africa team-mates for this weekend's all-important Davis Cup
Euro/Africa Group 1 play-off tie against Portugal.
The 21-year-old arrived in the
Portuguese capital playing the best tennis of his career.
Harris keeps racking
up the achievements as the 2018 season rolls along, and the South African
#NextGenATP is pressing towards yet another - the Top 100 in the ATP rankings.
Two weekends ago Harris dominated
the field in Stockton, California, to claim his second ATP Challenger Tour
title, defeating fellow #NextGenATP Marc Polmans of Australia 6-2, 6-2 in the
In August, he became the first South African to lift a trophy in five
years at the ATP Challenger in Lexington. Now, the Cape Town native proved that
he's not done with just one.
Following his title win in Stockton Harris joins
as exclusive club in becoming the third #NextGenATP with multiple titles this
And most importantly, Harris is up
to a career-high No 112 in the ATP Rankings and rises four spots to 10th in
the ATP Race to Milan. Having resided in 20th place prior to his triumph in
Lexington, he is now firmly in contention to qualify for the Next Gen ATP
Behind a ruthless run that has
included a pair of Challenger titles, a successful US Open qualifying campaign
and a first Top 50 win over Gael Monfils at the Chengdu Open, Harris has fast
become one of the hottest players in pro tennis. He's showing no signs of
slowing down as the season nears its conclusion.
This coming weekend Harris will
play in his seventh Davis Cup tie for South Africa. Since his Davis Cup debut
against Luxembourg at home at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria in 2015,
Harris has made impressive improvements to his game and world rankings and with
Kevin Anderson not making himself available for Davis Cup duty, the hopes of
the nation lie firmly on the shoulders of Harris.
"It's always an honour to play for
my country and each time I walk onto court in the green and gold I feel
extremely proud," said Harris.
"I have been really confident lately on
court and I've played a lot of matches this year. Getting a lot of wins in the
last couple of months has really built my confidence up nicely. Two weeks back
I had the biggest win of my career (defeated Monfils at Chengdu Open) and that
really helps for sure. I'm just playing very good tennis at the moment."
Harris said that he aimed to secure
a top 100 ranking in the next few months.
"The key for me is to keep improving
my game and doing the hard work. I feel like if I keep doing that, the tennis
will stay good. As long as I keep a positive mindset, I'll play better and have
strong results in the future. I'm not expecting anything and giving it my all
every day," he said.
Commenting on the adjustment of
playing on the regular tour to Davis Cup in a week, Harris said that it would
always remain a challenge for the team playing away.
"It's not easy but that is
what makes Davis Cup so interesting. This week the Portuguese are hosting, and
they have chosen red clay. I have been on the hard courts of the USA for the
past two months and only have three days to adjust to the clay. It's tough but
part of the competition. I have to make the adjustments, get over the jet lag
and get into the correct mind-set and get used to the clay. But I have some
very supportive team-mates, a great physio in Karen Frye and an experienced
captain in Marcos Ondruska to guide and help me in this regard."
Harris said that he was constantly
trying to improve his game.
"I'm constantly trying to work on things. It's a
mixture of tweaking small things in my game, like moving forward and working on
my volley game, and also the transition from playing defense to being more
offensive. Just the small things and I felt that it's really paying off. After
a great run in the American summer, I went home and took three weeks to think
about how I want to improve and what I want to do with my game. I've come back
even stronger and am playing even better than I wanted to before."
On the mental part of his game,
Harris said that a lot of players are challenged.
"I have been working hard at
keeping the focus throughout an entire match and an entire tournament. At the
Challenger level and at the ATP level, you can't not be strong in that area.
Any dips will cost you the match. So, I feel like I've really improved on that.
I'm trying to compete in every single point. It doesn't matter if it's 0/40 or
whatever the score may be. I'm trying to compete hard. In the last couple of
months, I've really done that well and made a mental shift."
Harris said that he was feeling the
support from South Africa as he was making the improvements to his game and
"My success I think is massive for the country. One thing we've been
lacking as a country has been depth. We've only had Kevin Anderson at the top
and also Raven Klaasen in the doubles. A country is not a great tennis country
with only one or two guys succeeding. So now, we're getting closer and closer
and hopefully I'll be in all the main draws of the Grand Slams as well. I want
to be right there competing with the top guys. I think it's great for the
country and to have a support group behind me. It's also awesome that I can
inspire the younger kids and upcoming juniors that they can also achieve that.
That's what we're looking for."
Commenting on this weekend's tie
against Portugal, Harris said South Africa were up to the challenge.
"It's not going to be an easy tie, Portugal have a strong line up, three
players in the world's top 200 and are playing at home. But regardless me and
my team-mates are putting our all into being best prepared for this weekend and
want to do not only ourselves but our country proud."
South Africa take on Portugal
on Friday and Saturday, October 19-20.