Lloyd Harris of South Africa in action during his singles match against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia on day 2 of the ATP Cup tennis tournament at Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Photo: Dave Hunt/Reuters

CAPE TOWN – After a promising start South Africa's Lloyd Harris was defeated by Dušan Lajović who won 3-6, 7-6 [4], 6-3 to give Serbia an early lead 1-0 in the ATP Cup Group A match at the Pat Rafter Arena, Brisbane, Australia, on Saturday.

Given the players' current world rankings, Harris (world-ranked 99) was the underdog going into the match against Lajović (39), although the South African might have thought otherwise since he recorded a straight-sets win in their previous clash last September.

Harris looked in good nick in the opening set after service breaks in the first and ninth games for a 6-3 win after 32 minutes. He also dominated the aces count 5-0 in this set.

As the second set wound its course the experienced Lajović grew stronger and Harris battled to hold serve for most of the set. Harris looked increasingly out of sorts but held out for a tiebreak which Lajović won 7-4 after a protracted 66-minute second set battle.

There was a greater measure of fight from Harris in the third but his body language by this time suggested that he was fighting exhaustion. Lajović, as he admitted in a post-match interview, sensed his opponent's exhaustion and sprayed his returns wide and fast. This helped to sap Harris' strength and although he briefly raised hopes in the SA camp by breaking back in the 5th game.

However, after a 3-all stalemate, Lajović never looked back and won the next three games on the trot to wrap up the set 6-3 after 37 minutes.

After this setback, South Africa will rely on Kevin Anderson to save the day, He goes up against World No 2 Novak Djokovic in a later clash.

African News Agency (ANA)