Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Harris pulls off big comeback to stun veteran Young

No. 2 seed Lloyd Harris rallied from two breaks
down at 2-5 in the third set and saved two match
points in a win over former top-40 player Donald
Young today in the first round of the $100,000 Fair-
field (Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman 
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   FAIRFIELD, Calif. -- Donald Young has 103 singles victories on the ATP World Tour, the major leagues of men's tennis, to Lloyd Harris' one.
   But Harris has something that Young doesn't at the moment.
   Confidence. A lot of it.
   That was the difference in their first-round match today in the $100,000 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship.
   The second-seeded Harris rallied from two service breaks down at 2-5 in the third set and saved two match points in a 7-6 (12), 4-6, 7-5 victory at Solano Community College. The nerve-wracking match lasted 2 hours, 33 minutes in 81-degree (27.2 Celsius) heat.
   "I think (confidence) got me the first set, and it also got me back from 2-5," asserted Harris, a 21-year-old South African. "Confidence definitely helps, especially on the big points."
   Whereas Harris has skyrocketed from No. 291 at the beginning of the year to a career-high No. 113, Young has tumbled from No. 61 to No. 264 over the same period and from a career-high No. 38 in 2012.
   In singles this year, Young is 3-12 on the ATP World Tour and now 4-7 on the Challenger circuit. He did beat three-time Grand Slam singles champion Stan Wawrinka, rebounding from knee surgery, in a third-set tiebreaker in the first round at Washington this summer as a qualifier.
   Young, a 29-year-old left-hander from Atlanta once considered the future of U.S. men's tennis, made his first appearance in Northern California since reaching the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger in 2013. He has won four Challenger singles titles in NorCal.
   "Playing a former top-40 player in the first round, it's not easy -- that's for sure," Harris said. "I think everybody saw the ability he has. He makes it look easy at times."
Donald Young has tumbled from a career-high No. 38
in 2012 to No. 264. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Harris stunned French veteran Gael Monfils, ranked 38th after reaching a career-high sixth in 2016, two weeks ago in Chengdu, China, for his first ATP main-draw victory and won last week's $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Pro Open for his second career Challenger singles title.
   "Today I was struggling to find my game," Harris admitted. "When you can pull through with a 'W' on days like that, I think that's what really counts."
   At 2-5 in the third set, Harris said he "was just like, 'Maybe he gets nervous. He hasn't won as many matches as he'd like maybe this year.' I thought maybe some nerves will kick in and maybe somehow I play more free. That's kind of what happened. I started playing a little better, more aggressive, and started moving better. Then all of a sudden, I play my best tennis from 5-2 down in the third."
   Young had six set points in the first-set tiebreaker. He double-faulted on the third one and on his first match point at 5-4 in the third set. Two points later, Harris escaped another match point with an inside-out forehand winner. On Harris' first match point, Young sailed a forehand approach barely long.
   "The tiebreaker was very draining," Harris said. "I thought I lost it like four times, so to come back and win it, that was awesome. It kept me in the match, obviously. He won the second set, then I came back from 2-5. My friend was telling me, 'Keep fighting; maybe you'll get a chance.' I was like, 'Yeah, sure.' I was fighting. I was playing unbelievable on the big points and somehow managed to get back."
   Harris finished with 17 aces and 12 double faults and saved 13 of 17 break points against him. Young had three aces and 11 double faults and survived two of the six break points he faced.
   Australia's Marc Polmans, the Stockton runner-up, lost to JC Aragone of Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles area 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-3.
No. 8 seed Alex Bolt beat fellow Australian and
close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. Bolt
will face wild card Collin Altamirano of Sacramen-
to on Wednesday. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Aragone's doubles partner at the University of Virginia last year, wild card Collin Altamirano of Sacramento, will play eighth-seeded Alex Bolt of Australia for the first time on Wednesday. Bolt, a 25-year-old left-hander, withstood 16 aces to defeat his childhood friend Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
   Bolt also beat Kokkinakis in the final round of qualifying at Wimbledon this year before losing to 21st-seeded Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in the first round of the main draw.
   Kokkinakis, who climbed as high as No. 69 in 2015 at age 19 before injuries derailed his career, shocked Roger Federer in the second round in Miami in March and won the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in August. Aptos is a two-hour drive south of Fairfield.
   "I was just trying to keep my level consistent," said Bolt, a two-time Australian Open doubles quarterfinalist. "Thanasi, his best game is up there with the best players, so I just had to weather the storm and was lucky enough to get on top."
   Top-seeded Jordan Thompson of Australia downed Jay Clarke of Great Britain 7-6 (3), 6-1, avenging a three-set loss to Clarke in the final of the $75,000 Binghamton (N.Y.) Challenger in July.
   Third-seeded Noah Rubin of Long Island, N.Y., beat wild card Axel Geller, a Stanford sophomore from Argentina, 6-3, 6-4.
   Rubin, a product of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York, reached the singles quarterfinals and won the doubles title (with Darian King of Barbados) last week in Stockton.
   Geller ended 2017 as the No. 1 junior in the world after advancing to the Wimbledon and U.S. Open boys singles finals that year. He also won the Wimbledon boys doubles crown with Hsu Yu-hsiou of Chinese Taipei in 2017.
   In tonight's featured singles match, Dominik Koepfer of Germany outplayed seventh-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4.
   Koepfer, a 24-year-old former All-American at Tulane, was the runner-up to Jason Jung, a Los Angeles-area native who plays for Chinese Taipei, in the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in February. Fairfield is a 45-minute drive northeast of San Francisco.
   The 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Karlovic, 39, reached the final of last week's $150,000 Challenger in Monterrey, Mexico, losing to former world No. 3 David Ferrer, 36, of Spain.
   Here are the Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule. The tournament is being streamed live.

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