SA’s No 2 men’s singles player, Lloyd Harris, is one step from entering the main draw of the Australian Open after coming through his second qualifying match on Thursday.
Harris‚ the world No 119‚ beat Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 7-5 6-3 to set up a meeting with mercurial German Dustin Brown for a place in the 128-man main draw. Brown‚ a 34-year-old veteran‚ has had a few inspired moments in his erratic career‚ but is more of a grass court specialist.
In 2014 he famously beat Rafa Nadal at the Halle Open and repeated the feat at Wimbledon in 2015. But Brown has dropped down the rankings from a career high 64 in 2016. He is now at No 224 in the world‚ but his form at Melbourne Park has been promising.
The main draw of the Australian Open was also made on Thursday and while Harris‚ should he qualify‚ will have to see where he is slotted in‚ fifth seed Kevin Anderson has no such concerns.
SA’s No 1 player will face France’s Adrian Mannarino in the first round. Left-hander Mannarino is ranked 41st in the world but will be no walkover for the hard-serving Anderson. The Frenchman made it to the third round in Melbourne in 2018 while Anderson suffered a surprise first-round exit against Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who went on to make the semifinals.
The draw appears kind to Anderson for the first week of the tournament but he is on a collision course with No 2 seed Nadal in the quarterfinals. If he goes beyond that stage‚ Anderson is set to clash with seventime winner and world No 3 Roger Federer in the semifinals.
If Anderson does force a lasteight showdown with Nadal‚ at least there will be some familiarity about the match-up as the pair spent Thursday morning practising together.
Federer‚ at 37‚ is hoping to win his 100th professional tournament if he can successfully defend his title in Melbourne.
“Ninety nine is already an incredible number and I could live happily on 99 but when you’re so close…” Federer said.
“Every tournament I go to we will talk about it but I don’t want to think too far ahead. Reaching 100 will be truly special for me.
“When I saw Andre Agassi play so long, and Jimmy Conno r s ‚ they played through generations. I’m surprised I’m still at this level‚ that I am still top 10.”
Meanwhile in Auckland, New Zealand, SA’s Raven Klaasen and partner Michael Venus progressed to the doubles semifinals of the Auckland Open.