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CAPE TOWN – The big-serving unseeded South African Lloyd Harris confirmed his standing as a dangerous customer in the men's draw after he defeated 25th seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in their first-round US Open clash in New York on Tuesday evening.
The result was an upset and one of many on Day 2 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. By the end of play on Tuesday, no less than 10 seeded players suffered defeat, including one top-tenner Pablo Carreno Busta, who slots in at No 9.
Already the men's event is without several marquee players. These include defending champion Dominic Thiem, 5-time champion Roger Federer, 4-time champion Rafael Nadal and a previous champion Stan Wawrinka who defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2016 final.
The 47th-ranked dangerman Harris, who defeated world No 5 Rafael Nadal last month in Washington, looked to be dead and buried when he was trailing 2-1 after three sets. The 28th-ranked Russian Khachanov looked particularly ruthless in the second set, which he clinched with an emphatic 6-1 scoreline after 32 minutes.
Khachanov had come into the tournament with red-hot form after claiming silver at the recent Tokyo Olympics [he lost to Germany's Alexander Zverev in the final]. In Tokyo, he defeated higher-ranked players like Diego Schwartzman and Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets.
Harris fared better in the next set, but it was not enough to halt the Russian.
In the fourth set, scores went with serve as Harris recovered with a steady performance. He made a breakthrough in the eighth game to go up 5-3 before he served for the set.
In the deciding set, Khachanov seemed to be battling with mobility and dropped serve 0-40 in the opening game and Harris was off to a flier.
In the fifth game, Harris broke Khachanov again after spurning three break points and at 4-1, it was the beginning of the end for the Russian.
In the final game, Harris started poorly to trail 0-30 but then changed into overdrive to claim four matchwinning points on the trot and sign off after 190 minutes a 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 winner.
Harris will join compatriot Kevin Anderson in the second round and plays 67th-ranked American Ernesto Escobedo on Thursday.