SA Davis Cup captain thrilled about the prospect of working with Lloyd Harris
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CAPE TOWN - SOUTH African Davis Cup captain Christo van Rensburg met Lloyd Harris for the first time this week, and said it was “amazing how strong the guy looks”.
Harris attributed part of his success at the US Open last week when he reached the quarterfinals to better fitness and physical strength that he was able to build up during long periods of inactivity due to Covid-19 over the last two years.
While he went down to German star Alexander Zverev at Flushing Meadows, Harris has stayed on in New York for SA’s Davis Cup World Group II encounter against Venezuela this weekend, and
Van Rensburg is thrilled about the prospect of working with the 24-year-old from Cape Town.
“I was very excited a few weeks ago when I called him, and he said right away that he loves to play Davis Cup” said 58-year-old Van Rensburg, who won the 1985 Australian Open doubles title with American partner Paul Annacone.
“Usually when players are getting very high up in the rankings, sometimes they shift their priorities.
It was one of the easiest phone calls for me, and I was very proud of how he explained to me that he takes Davis Cup very seriously.
“He was brought up in the ITFs with these guys, so when you are in that environment, you grow with these guys – ranking does not matter, because you treat them as your own.
“When you are 18 or 19 and you get on tour, you play a guy who is 29 years old and ranked No 1, there will always be that feeling of overrespecting him. So I think that plays in the favour of Lloyd.
“I got to know him now – never met him before – and physically, it’s amazing how strong the guy looks. Taking confidence from winning and competing, and beating former No 1s can build that confidence.
“I am very fortunate to be on the court here with someone with that much confidence, and coming off the US Open, so it’s kind of excitement for me also.”
Harris moved up to a career-high world ranking of 31st this week after his US Open heroics, but said he will try to remain available for Cup ties.
He admits that he doesn’t know too much about the Venezuela team, whose best player Ricardo Rodriguez is at No 591 on the singles rankings.
The rest of the SA team is veteran doubles specialist Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse, Sipho Montsi and Philip Henning.
“It’s a country in South America, and they have pretty good coffee!” joked Harris. “I’ve done a little bit of research, when they released the names (of their players). It seems like they have some more veteran players for the Davis Cup team who have played a lot of ties. They also have younger players, guys coming out of college, so it looks like they have a pretty solid team all-round.
“They don’t have a big name in the world rankings that we know, but they have done well in the Davis Cup in recent years with the team they have. Davis Cup is an interesting competition where rankings can kind of be put aside, and you’re playing for your country and there is so much more at stake.
“I would love for us to keep playing and keep winning, and eventually get into the World Group. I would love that for our country and I would love that for myself, and I think that would be a huge achievement for us, to reach the World Group and be able to compete against the best teams in the world once again.”