Harris reaches his first ATP final in Adelaide - TeamSA

Harris reaches his first final in Adelaide

Lloyd Harris

Lloyd Harris is one victory away from capturing his first ATP Tour tennis title after reaching the final of the 250 tournament in Adelaide, Australia.

The 22-year-old, ranked No91 in the world but who reached a career high of No82 last July, saw off a fellow qualifier in the semi-finals, America’s Tommy Paul, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 against the world No 90 to reach the final. There he will meet No3 seed Andrey Rublev, of Russia, who beat No3 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada in the other semi-final. Harris is likely to rise to about 72 in the world when next week’s rankings appear.

‘To be honest, it doesn’t seem real now,’ Harris said after the victory. ‘It was a tough match for both of us, we were both nervous. I’m really, really happy with the win. I had to go for it when I was serving for the match, he was ready to make me play. I knew it would be tough to serve it out, I had to put everything I had into the end.’

This was the first ATP Tour semi-final between two qualifiers since Roberto Carballes Baena beat Andrej Martin in Quito in 2018. Harris was on the back foot towards the end of the second set, despite recouping a break to force a tie-break, as Paul was taking control of rallies more often and not allowing the South African to dictate play.

But Harris, who defeated No4 seed Pablo Carreno Busta and No6 seed Cristian Garin earlier in the ATP 250 tournament, was undeterred. He lost just two first-serve points in the decider en route to his victory.

Last year, Harris made his first tour-level quarter-final and semi-final in Chengdu as a lucky loser. But he has gone one step further in Adelaide, blasting 13 aces and winning 85 per cent of his first-serve points against the man who is one spot ahead of him in the rankings.

Last year Harris qualified for the main draws of all four Grand Slam events and next week, he opens his 2020 Australian Open campaign with a tough first-round match against No14 seed Diego Schwartzman, of Argentina.