Dominic Thiem crashed out in Dubai
Dominic Thiem crashed out in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Lloyd Harris claimed the biggest win of his career as he upset top seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The South African dropped only one point behind his first serve and struck 23 winners to eliminate the US Open champion after 72 minutes. This was Harris’ first win against a top-five player. The 24-year-old claimed his first top 20 win at last week’s Qatar Open against Stan Wawrinka.

“I’m super, super happy with that win. He is by far the highest-ranked player I have beaten,” Harris said. “I look up to Domi a lot so, for me, it is a special feeling. I am really happy. Just the fact that I am playing good tennis, match in, match out now is giving me a lot of confidence.”

Throughout the match, Harris held serve without being forced to deuce. The World No. 81 earned the only break of the second set at 3-3, when he rushed Thiem with deep backhand returns and capitalised on two double faults. Harris closed the match with a powerful first serve into Thiem’s backhand.

“I was serving really well. I don’t think I faced any break points,” said Harris. “I took control of those games and in one or two games on his serve, I gave myself a good look. I played some of the important points very well. I am very proud of that.

Thiem admitted his faults. “I had troubles returning his serve. There were also way too many easy mistakes from my side, from the baseline. I said a couple of days ago that if I am not playing at my best level, it is not enough against all of the players in the draw.”

Harris will meet 14th seed Filip Krajinovic for a quarter-final spot. The Serbian saved all four break points he faced to defeat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

Kei Nishikori extended his unbeaten ATP record against David Goffin to 4-0 with a 6-3, 7-6 win. The Japanese will face Aljaz Bedene in the third round. Bedene eased past Lorenzo Giustino 6-4, 6-3.

Karen Khachanov also advanced to the third round. The Russian outlasted Singapore champion Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and 16 minutes. Khachanov will meet Jeremy Chardy for a place in the quarter-finals.