Harris Sets Shapovalov Clash In Dubai Semis

Lloyd Harris (photo: DDFT)

DUBAI/STARNBERG, March 18, 2021

South African qualifier Lloyd Harris continued his rapid rise up the global ladder on Thursday, securing another spectacular victory over Kei Nishikori of Japan at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

After knocking out top seed Dominic Thiem of Austria in the second round, Harris went on to sweep aside former US Open finalist and Olympic bronze medalist Nishikori in the quarterfinals.

Though Nishikori fought back in the second set, Harris held his nerve to earn a convincing 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win after one hour and 36 minutes.

The 24-year-old Cape Town native will have another opportunity for a career breakthrough in the next round, as he goes in search of a place in his first ATP 500 level final.

He will face third seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the semi-finals, for a place in this weekend’s trophy contest.

“I’m really happy to get these big wins under my belt, and I’m looking to keep building on this confidence, keep improving on my game and playing better tennis,” Harris said after the match.

“It’s been a fantastic week so far. I’ve been playing some high-quality tennis, and it’s been a lot of matches, but I’m not over the finish line just yet.

“Hopefully, there are two more matches to go, and I’ve just got to keep pushing.”

Rublev remains on title course

Later in the evening, Andrey Rublev defeated Marton Fucsovics from Hungary 7-5, 6-2. The No. 2 seed from Russia saved the only break point he faced, converting three of his own eight break-point chances to prevail after one hour and 29 minutes.

Rublev had to work hard to gain an advantage over Fucsovics in the first set, but benefited when his opponent double-faulted to gift him the opening set. Fucsovics, who was also recently defeated by Rublev in the Rotterdam final, then grew increasingly frustrated in the second set as Rublev continued to apply pressure and claimed a 3-1 lead on his fifth break point of the set.

The victory extends his ATP 500 winning streak to 23 matches, with his last defeat at this level coming in Dubai last year against Daniel Evans in the quarterfinals. Only Roger Federer with 28 wins has a longer winning streak.

“That first set, we were going point by point and everything was really close until 6-5 when probably he got a bit tight. And then he got frustrated and I thought this is my moment, that I really have a chance to win the set now,” said Rublev. “I made it and then I think he mentally went a bit down. Also he was tired because he played already many matches three sets this week.”