Harris falls at final hurdle in Adelaide - TeamSA
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Harris falls at final hurdle in Adelaide

Lloyd Harris

South Africa’s Lloyd Harris lost out in his first ATP Tour final when he was beaten in straight sets by the No2 seed Andrey Rublev in the Adelaide International.

Rublev became the first man in 16 years to win back-to-back titles in the opening two weeks of the season, beating Harris 6-3, 6-0.

The world No18 saved all four break points he faced to clinch the trophy in 56 minutes. Rublev is now unbeaten in 12 matches, which includes an 8-0 start to the 2020 ATP Tour season. Last week, the Russian won the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in Doha without dropping a set.

The last man to capture two trophies in as many weeks to open the season was Dominik Hrbaty in 2004. The Slovakian lifted titles in Adelaide and Auckland ahead of the Australia Open.

‘I was not thinking about [this statistic], but it’s an amazing feeling … I’m really happy. I hope I keep working. I hope I keep improving, and we’ll see what’s going to happen,’ said Rublev.

Rublev claimed the first break of the match in the sixth game, focusing his attack on Harris’ forehand to extract multiple errors. From 0/40 down in the following game, Rublev once again targeted his opponent’s forehand to hold serve for 5-2 and served out the set two games later.

Consistency proved crucial in the opening game of the second set, as Rublev took advantage of Harris’ errors to break serve for a second time. The 22-year-old rode the momentum, earning two further service breaks before closing out the match with attacking play.

“The first set was really tough because he had a couple of break points. [It] was a really nervous and tough first set. And then, I don’t know, I started to play even better,” said Rublev. ‘I think he got maybe a little bit disappointed because he had chances in the first set and he didn’t make it. He was, I think, a little bit down and I started to play even better.’

On his first match point, Rublev moved to the net behind a powerful forehand and forced his opponent into a backhand error with a short volley. The Russian turned to his team in celebration and smiled, having doubled his ATP Tour trophy collection since the start of the year.

‘This is what we are working for, to be more consistent, to be more mentally strong,’ said Rublev. ‘This is what we’re working for. And I’m happy that these two weeks went this way … I got two titles. It’s amazing. I never had this before.’

Harris was aiming to capture his first ATP Tour trophy in his maiden tour-level championship match. The South African, who represented his country at the inaugural ATP Cup, defeated sixth seed Cristian Garin and No4 seed Pablo Carreno Busta en route to the championship match.

Rublev receives 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and collects $91 625 in prize money. Harris earns 150 points and receives $50 710.