New York, USA – It was always going to be a tough opening round for Lloyd Harris at the US Open men’s singles championships in New York on Monday.
Harris qualified on Friday for the main draw proper after an impressive run which saw him win three qualifying rounds without losing a set. But when the draw was announced, Harris drew one of the most seasoned and respected players on the pro circuit, Frenchman Gilles Simon, ranked 40 in the world, playing in his 12th US Open Championships, a winner of 13 career titles and former world number 6.
Harris was motivated going into Monday’s match but his body was tired and it showed as Simon beat Harris 6-2 6-2 6-3 in 2 hrs 18 min.
It was the usually effective serve that Harris uses as a weapon that let the 21-year-old South African down with a low first serve percentage of 39% (1st set), 61% (2nd set) and 53% (3rd set) telling the story.
Also Harris, according to former South African great Wayne Ferreira (who was courtside supporting the South African), said that Harris wasn’t aggressive enough against Simon. “Lloyd has an impressive game that will get him deep into the world’s top 100. A pity his serve was not on song today and that Lloyd didn’t play aggressive which in order to have any chance against Gilles you need to do” said Ferreira.
Harris agreed with Ferreira. “I tried to play aggressive but I was missing a lot more than usual and battling to find my range.”
Harris said that Simon was a real tough opponent. “I have enormous respect for Gilles, he is tough to play, he made it difficult, made a lot of balls and played the big points well when it mattered.”
Eitan Adams, coach of Lloyd Harris from the Anthony Harris Tennis Academy in Cape Town admitted that Harris was not fully recovered from a long couple of weeks of good tennis going into the match against Simon. “Without making any excuses for Lloyd, Lloyd has played a lot of tennis the past few weeks, he has played deep into each event and his body was real tired after his final qualifying match on Friday. We had two days to recover and we did our very best to get Lloyd to the best possible shape for the Monday opening round. One could see on court he was tired, his serve as a result suffered and his footwork was not its usual which resulted in a high percentage of unforced errors giving Simon a clear advantage. “
But Adams said a lot of positives have come from his charges good run. “Lloyd can be so proud of himself and we have taken a lot of positives from the past few weeks. As fit as Lloyd is we need to make him stronger which will help him raise the level of play when he needs to most.”
Harris said he was happy to have qualified for his first Grand Slam. “I am proud of my efforts and its very motivating to see the hard work paying off here in New York. I gave my best out there and wish I had more in the tank but taking everything into consideration I feel good and ready to make the improvements I need to make to take me to the next level.”