The 24-year-old South African Lloyd Harris earned the biggest win of his career on Thursday evening, shocking Rafael Nadal 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the Citi Open in Washington DC, US.
The ATP Tour’s official website reported that Nadal overcame a lingering foot injury on Wednesday evening to beat home favourite Jack Sock in a final-set tiebreak. But Harris did not allow the top seed and 20-time Grand Slam-winner the same latitude.
“Today was really special. I think I have had some big wins, and this year I have beat some Grand Slam champions,” Harris told ATPTour.com.
“But to beat a 20-time Grand Slam champion, and especially in front of a full crowd and with such an amazing atmosphere, it was definitely something very special.”
Harris becomes the first player to win his first meeting with Nadal since 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov upset the Spaniard in 2017, the ATP Tour’s media channel tweeted.
The pain of his injury did not impact world No.3 Nadal’s fighting spirit — and the Spaniard said he felt better against world No.50 Harris, but it was not enough to topple the South African.
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 05: Lloyd Harris of South Africa celebrates a win after a match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day 6 during the Citi Open at Rock Creek Tennis Center on August 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Harris took the initiative, hitting nine forehand winners to just two for Nadal to seize the only break and win the first set.
“I did a lot of good things. I think the best thing was to stay in the moment, keep my composure, and I think I just stayed with my game and stayed playing a consistently good level throughout the match,” Harris said.
“It was a good, quality match, I think. Not easy for me out there. It was pretty physical, but all in all, I’m just super happy with how everything turned out.”