Harris upsets top-seeded Thiem at Dubai Championships

South African qualifier Lloyd Harris beats Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Lloyd Harris celebrates a point en route to his victory on Tuesday. - GETTY IMAGES

South African qualifier Lloyd Harris stunned US Open champion Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4 in the Austrian’s opening match at the Dubai Championships on Tuesday. Harris hit nine aces and didn’t allow fourth-ranked Thiem a single break point as he booked a third-round match against Filip Krajinovic.

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The 81st-ranked Harris needed just 72 minutes to dispatch the top-seeded Thiem.

“Obviously, I’m super happy with that win, by far the highest-ranked player I’ve beaten. I look up to Domi a lot, so for me it’s a special feeling and I’m really happy,” Harris said in an on-court interview.

“I was serving really well. I played some of the important points very well, so I’m very proud of that.”

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In contrast to Thiem, second-seeded Andrey Rublev swept past qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-4 to move into the third round without facing a break point. In the next round, Rublev plays Taylor Fritz, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

 

It was the Russian’s first win on court since he took the Rotterdam title on March 7. Rublev reached the semifinals of last week’s Qatar Open without playing after back-to-back walkovers before losing to Roberto Bautista Agut.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, seeded third, won the opening five games on the way to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jan-Lennard Struff. He next faces Hubert Hurkacz. Bautista Agut played just 28 minutes as his Australian opponent Matthew Ebden retired with the Spanish player leading 4-1 in the opening set. Bautista Agut is seeded fourth and will face Jannik Sinner in the round of 16.

Thiem looks to reset

World No. 4 Thiem says he wants to reset after making another early exit at this week's ATP 500 event in Dubai and is looking to come back stronger for the claycourt season.

Thiem said he would skip the ATP 1000 event on hardcourts in Miami, starting next week, and return to the tour during the European claycourt season. "I used to like playing a lot when I was younger. Now I really just need to reset myself a little bit to go fresh into the clay season," Thiem told reporters after his 6-3 6-4 loss on Tuesday.

"Right now I am in a tough period and (it) wouldn't be right to go to Miami. (I will) just make a little reset, regroup and hopefully have a good clay season. That's my main goal now after these tough weeks."

Thiem, who won his maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year, has struggled with a foot problem but refused to use that as an excuse.

"For example today there was no pain at all in the foot. It's a little bit on and off," he said. "Maybe I'll do a quick check, a quick MRI to see how that thing is developing. But that's really not the main issue. Just that I am not playing well, in general quite a tough period for me."

- REUTERS