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“Alcaraz has no weaknesses” – interview with Lloyd Harris

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NEW YORK – In his return to competition after a tough wrist injury tennis will treat South African Lloyd Harris to a feast: second-round US Open match at the Arthur Ashe against Carlos Alcaraz.

“I’m not surprised by everything he has already won, because he has a great mentality, great game and great team behind,” the 26-year-old tennis player tells CLAY in an interview.

Harris used to visit Juan Carlos Ferrero’s academy in Alicante to prepare for tournaments on clay. There he met Alcaraz, with whom he trained. The Spanish youngster was not able to beat Harris when he was 15 years old, but he certainly catched his attention with his already powerful forehand.

The former world number 31, who today uses his protected ranking to enter tournaments, is also a golf fanatic and a lover of Cape Town, his hometown. He would like to reach Rafael Nadal’s level with the clubs and beat him one day. Just as he did in tennis. That victory over the 22-time Grand Slam champion in Washington was “the best” of his entire career.

– Time to go against the reigning champion and world number one. You will surely have a fun time playing against Alcaraz… or maybe a very hard time.

– I’ve played in big stadiums here before and really enjoyed it. New York is such an electric city, so I’m sure it’s gonna be an exciting match. I’ve never played him before, we’ve only shared practices, so it will be nice.

– What do you think about what he already has achieved in his young career?

– It’s incredible, right? He is already up there. As some of the greatest ever. At his age, to do what he has done, to be the number one is spectacular, but I’m not surprised. He deserves it, he has a great game, great mentality and a great team with him.

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– Does he have a weak point? Anything that you are going to attack this thursday?

– No. No weak points. I have to be even better, that’s my only option, the only thing I could do. It’s the thing that makes him a complete player. He doesn’t have weaknesses. You have to construct points to make him a little bit off balance, but there are no weaknesses in his game.

– Washington 2021. You beat Rafael Nadal. That must have felt pretty nice.

– I’m hoping to play him again. That was the best win of my career by far. An spectacular evening. I still have goosebumps when I think about it. I played a really good match, obviously playing a legend like Rafa is never easy, but I had no pressure. I just went out there and played with confidence. The crowd was going crazy for Rafa, but I was enjoying, smiling, I just played the best tennis of my life.

– What celebration deserves someone that beat one of the best players of all time?

– (laugher) It was good, yeah. I was excited, everybody back in South Africa was excited. Me and my team we were hysterical.

– You spent a long time away from competition due to injury. Was it a nightmare?

– Not easy, obviously. But I’ve come back more motivated than ever. It’s been difficult to comeback, but here I am playing again, feeling healthy and feeling fit. I just need hopefully to get big wins and get my game back to where it was.

– Did you experience something new with that much spare time?

– I spent a lot of time with friends, family and doing some other things. I was coaching in our academy in Cape Town. I was with a cast in my right hand. At least I had time to spend time with the kids. It was amazing, It gave me a very different perspective of tennis. I really enjoyed it, it was fun. That time made me hungry. I worked out a lot, I’m in my best shape ever after.

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Harris venció a Rafael Nadal en 2021

– Do the kids look you as a role model?

– I hope so! I try to be the best role model I could for kids. I try to be a good example. It’s a special feeling.

– How’s tennis in South Africa?

– Is multicultural, for sure. Tennis has progressed a lot along the years. It’s been pushed for high performance, for development, to be in clubs. There’s some opportunities, some decent facilities, some academies. A lot it’s been trying, but it’s not easy, because the country is so far away from the world. There’s not enough tennis in Africa, very hard to travel from there, so it’s a little bit harder to become a player from South Africa.

– Have you travelled around your country?

– I haven’t had much time really, but after retirement for sure I’m gonna explore more. South Africa is an amazing place to visit. Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world. Every time I go back there, it’s spectacular; the beaches, the mountains, the vineyards, it’s just amazing. Safari is all around, Johannesburg is great also. My favourite country, my favourite place.

– Is tennis the only thing in your life?

– You have to have some balance, right? Obviously tennis is what I’m passioned about, is my work, but I also love golf, doing other sports with my friends. Fun stuff.

– You can challenge Nadal from the tee.

– I think he is a little bit better than me. I’m not bad. I talk a lot about golf with Casper, we follow the same youtubers, we are into the same. Rafa still beat him, and Casper has beat me, so I’m in trouble. I started a bit after them, so hopefully I can reach their level in the future.

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