Five Things To Know About Lloyd Harris, Dubai Finalist
South African Lloyd Harris is having the biggest week of his life this week at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, backing up his first-round upset of World No. 4 Dominic Thiem by beating World No. 12 Denis Shapovalov Friday to reach the final of the ATP 500 tennis tournament.
ATPTour.com looks at five things you should know about the 24-year-old.
1) The 24-Year-Old Is Stringing Together Big Wins
Harris earned the first Top 5 win of his career against Thiem in Dubai. Previously, he had been 0-4 against the Top 10. In each of those matches, including a Wimbledon clash against Roger Federer in 2019, he won a set, but was unable to advance.
Last week, Harris claimed his maiden Top 20 victory against Stan Wawrinka in Doha. The 24-year-old needed two hours and 41 minutes to topple the Swiss.
“I don’t have many words right now,” Harris said after his victory. “Stan was my idol growing up, so just to play against him was incredible. I was as determined as I could be, really pumped to play.
2) Harris Is Coached By Harris (Unrelated) & Malisse
Harris has long been coached by another Harris… Anthony Harris, who is unrelated. They have worked together since Lloyd was a teenager. When they first met, Lloyd had only played tennis twice a week, but Anthony kept telling him he had Top 100 potential.
It turns out Anthony has great foresight, too. Before Wimbledon in 2019, he kept calling Lloyd to predict he would face Federer in the first round.
“[My coach] came to me in the lounge – I was sitting there with my mom – and he was like, ‘I don’t know how this happened, but it came true,’” Harris remembered. “We were kind of shocked and surprised and excited at the same time."
Harris is in Dubai with retired Belgian star Xavier Malisse, who cracked the Top 25 in singles and doubles. Malisse previously spent several weeks with Harris in 2019.
3) He Is Following In Anderson’s Footsteps
Harris is the No. 1 South African in the FedEx ATP Rankings at World No. 81, nine spots ahead of Kevin Anderson, his 2020 ATP Cup teammate. But throughout his career, Harris has followed in Anderson’s footsteps.
“At the time I was growing up, from a reasonable age when I was watching tennis, there was no one playing [from South Africa],” Harris said. “Kevin was the first one to come along again and it has been unbelievable to see his rise up the ranks.”
Anderson is a two-time Grand Slam finalist who has ascended as high as World No. 5. When Harris first broke into the Top 100 in February 2019, it was the first time since February 2004 (Ferreira and Moodie) that two South Africans were in the distinguished group at the same time.
4) The South African Picked Up Tennis Early, Played Other Sports For Years
Harris grew up in a tennis home in which both of his parents and his sister, Monique, played tennis. They lived right next to a tennis court. Harris would watch as his family played, and he wanted in.
“I picked up the racquet really, really young and all I wanted to do was just play with them as well,” Harris said. “My mum asked the coaches, ‘Is he not too young? Can he start?’ I was not even three years old. There I was hitting balls already. The thing is, I enjoyed every second of it. I never had played too much.”
Harris played other sports, too, which kept him from dedicating himself solely to tennis until he was 15 or 16. The South African also played rugby, cricket, athletics and swimming.
“That kept me excited for tennis and I kept on enjoying it. That was great,” Harris said. “Back in South Africa, I was lucky enough to be in great schools and have all the facilities and stuff that I needed.”
5) He’s A Tottenham Hotspur Fan & Enjoys Cars
During Harris’ run to last year’s Adelaide final — his first on the ATP Tour — the South African spoke about his love for Tottenham Hotspur, a football club.
“Only became really into football like three, four years ago. Just some of my favourite players that when I started watching, I took a big liking in some of their players. Heung-min Son, Harry Kane probably my favourites,” Harris said at the time. “Then I just started supporting them. Got the shirt, got everything that goes with it. And to be honest, I have been following them like every single match. Now I'm a diehard fan, for sure.”
Harris is also a fan of action. He enjoys cars, his favourite movie is The Fast and the Furious and his favourite superhero is Iron Man. The 24-year-old, whose nickname is “King”, also likes music, the show Breaking Bad and spending time with family and friends.