Johannesburg - South Africa’s Lloyd Harris lost to Australian wild card Aleksandar Vukic in the first round of the Australian Open, in Melbourne, on Monday.
Harris, seeded 30th for the tournament, was expected to advance against his lower-ranked opponent but lost in four sets 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-7 to the rapturous applause of the home crowd.
The 24-year-old Harris is ranked 33rd in the world, but did not have the best preparation coming into the Aussie Open before losing to the 144th-ranked Vukic. Last week, Harris lost in the first round of the Adelaide Open, in his first tournament since testing positive for Covid-19 in late December.
Harris began strongly, breaking the serve of Vukic in the first game of the match and racing out to a 2-0 lead. He would go on to close out the set 6-4 as Harris looked to be in control of the clash.
However, at 4-3 down in the second set Harris lost four points in a row on his own serve to gift Vukic the lead. That was the boost Vukic needed as he served out the set to love in the ninth game to level the contest.
With the scores tied 5-5 in the third set, Harris threw in two forehand errors and another backhand error to once again put Vukic in the driving seat. Again, Vukic was able to serve out the set in the next game to take it 7-5.
The fourth set was an even tighter affair, with Vukic needing a tiebreak to beat Harris and book his ticket to the next round.
Flying the flag 🇦![CDATA]>🇺— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 17, 2022
Adelaide International quarterfinalist Aleksandar
Vukic books a spot in the second round and records his best result at a Grand Slam, upsetting No.30 seed Lloyd Harris 4-6 6-3 7-5 7-6(3). #AusOpen • #AO2022 pic.twitter.com/kQ9R9RbHmK
In total, Harris dished up 58 unforced errors to the 45 of Vukic - which perhaps was the difference between the two competitors.
SA’s Kevin Anderson is up against the 23rd seed, American Reilly Opelka later in the day.