Lloyd Harris very dangerous on a fast surface, says Kei Nishikori
CAPE TOWN - South African qualifier Lloyd Harris continues to boss the main draw players at the Dubai Championship after beating former World No 3 Kei Nishikori 6-1 3-6 6-3 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals.
The win allows Harris to make history. He is the first qualifier to reach the semi-finals at the Dubai Championship, which last year was won by Novak Djokovic.
His semi-final opponent on Friday will be third-seeded Denis Shapovalov, the Canadian ranked 11th in the world. His career-high ranking is No 10.
Following a string of upset wins, Harris was bombarded with compliments from fans around the world. The most striking tribute came from Nishikori after Thursday's match.
Nishikori said: "He (Harris) has everything. He is tall and moves well. On a quick surface, he is very dangerous. He can be a top 20, top 10 player."
It was the first time that a player of Nishikori's standing has singled out Harris as a future world top 10 player.
Harris responded afterwards: "It was a massive compliment coming from a grand slam finalist."
The most impressive trait Harris has displayed throughout all the giant-killing acts this week has been his quiet, calm unassuming manner.
All this, while in the spotlight of an ATP 500 event, which is just a tier or two below Grand Slam tournaments and attracts the world’s foremost players.
After his Nishikori conquest, Harris said that his daily preparation routine has not changed over the past few days.
"There has been no departure from my daily preparation. I stick to my daily routine," Harris told the media, who were all trying to establish what the major factor was behind his victory over big-name players.
"I try to stay calm and focussed. This week I felt comfortable whenever I stepped out on the court. I always had a feeling that my preparation was good.
"When you are up against players like Kei, it calls for adjusting to the big stage. The more I grow in confidence and belief, I go out in a frame of mind that makes me feel I am as good as any player on the (ATP) Tour. I now have that belief.
"I have learnt to adjust my routine and take extra care about warming up. I have learnt the importance of taking care of the body and doing other things a lot better.
"As the season goes along, I am serving better, and I am making more returns. My game is solid, and I am playing the big points better. I am trying to be aggressive and step up my game all the time."
Harris' wins over 'big names' will stand him in good stead because it dished up some valuable lessons.
"As I reflect on the matches this week there are small things that I could have done better," said Harris.
"I look at every little detail and it will help me going forward.
"I have put in the hard yards (at training) and my game is coming together. Various aspects of my game are coming together, and that is key for me."