Lloyd Harris maintained his perfect record in 2021 against Top 20 opponents on Monday, when he began his Mutua Madrid Open debut with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) victory over No. 13 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
The South African failed to convert three match points on Dimitrov’s serve at 5-2 in the deciding set, and was subsequently broken, but won four straight points from 2/3 down in the tie-break.
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“It was a big up and down match, [I led by] a set and a break, then [I was] a break up in the third too,” said Harris. “I got a little bit nervous at the end, but I’m happy to close it out. I started to dictate again at the end.”
The 24-year-old Harris, who hit 34 winners past 2015 quarter-finalist Dimitrov, will next challenge Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the second round. “He is a very tough opponent and he doesn’t give you much,” said Harris, who is now 10-6 on the season. “We had an epic match in the past.”
Six weeks ago, Harris qualified for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and beat the likes of Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov en route to the final (l. to Karatsev).
Elsewhere, 2015 and 2018 Madrid quarter-finalist John Isner worked his way past Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-6(6) in 80 minutes. The American saved four break points at 4-4 in the second set and a set point at 5/6 in the tie-break.
Isner, who hit 28 aces past Kecmanovic, will next face ninth-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut or qualifier Marco Cecchinato of Italy.