Lloyd Harris’ Australian Open qualification means fifth seed Kevin Anderson won’t be the only South African at the tournament, which starts on Monday.
Harris has qualified for the main draw of the men’s singles after prevailing in his final qualifying match against veteran Dustin Brown 6-1, 7-6 (12/10) on Friday.
The 21-year-old beat Zdenek Kolár from Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the qualifying draw, thrashing Germany’s world No 161 Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-3 in the second round.
“I felt really good throughout the match,” the Cape Town-born tennis player said.
“The first set went by in the blink of an eye, but, in the second set, the match had a lot of swings and big moments. Dustin Brown is one of the trickiest opponents, so I had to stay calm and focused throughout. My body is feeling great. I am confident that I will be at 100% for my first-round match.”
Harris qualified for his first grand slam – the US Open – last year.Since 2015, the Australian Open trophy has been shared between top dogs Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray.
On Monday, Federer will begin his journey to win his 100th title and his 21st grand slam.
He will also be vying for his record seventh Australian Open, which Djokovic will also be eyeing.Federer’s first opponent in this tournament will be unseeded Uzbek Denis Istomin.
Second seed Nadal will also be hoping to improve his record of 17 grand slams record when he begins the event against Australian James Duckworth, who is ranked outside the top 200.The Spaniard ended the year badly after pulling out of two tournaments due to a leg injury.
After not playing a match in almost four months, he withdrew from the Brisbane International last week.However tennis analyst Bruce Davidson said Nadal shouldn’t be ruled out completely.
“Nadal is a fighter. He took a long break so he will do well. He can do anything anytime if he can stay healthy. He can beat anyone.”
Meanwhile, former world No 1 Andy Murray on Friday announced he would retire from tennis after the open due to constant injury.