Team South Africa began the inaugural ATP Cup campaign with a 3-0 defeat against Serbia in Brisbane, Australia on Saturday.
Rising star Lloyd Harris gave a spirited display in the opening singles match before going down 3-6 7-6(4) 6-3 against world No. 34 Dusan Lajovic of Israel in a 2-hour and 15-minute pulsating battle.
Harris had the upper hand in the opening set, dominating with serve and forehand to sail through his service games and delivering breaks in games one and nine for a commanding 6-3 advantage.
The 22-year-old fended off four break chances earlier in the second set and it was Lajovic who produced one powerful hold after another, reaching the tie break and taking it 7-4 to force a decider. There, they traded breaks in games four and five to stay neck and neck before Dusan claimed 12 of the last 14 points, earning a break in game eight and sealing the deal in the next game to push Serbia in front.
“It was a very tough match at the end. I felt like I played really well at the start, got off to that early break and continued with the momentum throughout the first set, even the second set until halfway I was feeling pretty much in control of the match,” Harris told ATPtour.com. “It’s been a really fun week and an enjoyable week and we have put in a lot of hard work, so let’s see what we can do from here.”
The second singles rubber saw the battle of the top-ranked players, world no. 2 Novak Djokovic who prevailed over former world number 5 Kevin Anderson 7-6(5), 7-6(6) after one of the most intense battles of the tournament so far. It was their 11th meeting and the ninth victory for the Serb who had to dig deep to prevail and secure the overall win for Serbia.
The doubles rubber saw a dominant performance from the Serbian pair of Nikola Cacic and Viktor Troicki, easing passed Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse, winning 6-3 6-2 to complete a clean sweep for the Serbians.
The new 24-nation tournament features six groups of four teams. Each country plays three round-robin ties which are comprised of two singles matches and one doubles.
South Africa will face Chile on Monday, January 6.
Scores: Serbia 3 South Africa 0
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) bt Lloyd Harris (RSA) 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Novak Djokovic (SRB) bt Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6)
Nikola Cacic/Viktor Troicki (SRB) bt Raven Klaasen/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) 6-3, 6-2