CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s Lloyd Harris scored a superb first-round 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) win over Australian Alexei Popyrin at the French Open yesterday.
The 23-year-old Capetonian was hugely impressive as he blasted 17 aces against seven from his 21-year-old opponent.
Harris wrapped up the contest in two hours, after winning the first set in 28 minutes.
An elated Harris, the world No 96, spoke with Independent Media moments after his claycourt conquest.
“Obviously, I am super happy with the outcome of the match,” said Harris. “I think it was a solid performance from start to finish.
“I served well and just kept piling on the pressure. I forced him to miss some balls and make some unforced errors which he did not want to make.
“Now I’m really happy that I’m in the second round. I’ll rest up a bit and prepare the body and be ready for Round 2.”
Breaks of serve in the seventh games of the opening two sets sent Harris on his way to victory against the 108th-ranked Popyrin, who double-faulted seven times during this time.
Both players held serve in the third set and in the resultant tiebreaker Harris delayed his victory charge after surrendering two match points, but he finally signed off with a 9/7 outcome to wrap up a straight-sets win. It will be the second time Harris has won through to the second round at Roland Garros.
Harris will next play tomorrow against seventh-seed, Italian Matteo Berrettini, who won 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 against Canadian Vasek Pospisil in one hour and 48 minutes in their first-round clash.
The 24-year-old Berrettini, a claycourt specialist, is world-ranked eighth and has never progressed beyond the second round at Roland Garros.
Heavy rain in the afternoon held up play for just over two hours on the outside courts where South Africans Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen were in action.
When play resumed, Anderson made light work of Serbian Laslo Djere with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win in a welcome return to form.
On Court 2, the 10th seed Klaasen and his doubles partner Oliver Marach of Austria made a shock first-round exit.
They lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to the unseeded French duo Benjamin Bonzi and Antoine Hoang.