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Harris upsets top-seeded Thiem at Dubai Championships

Dubai Duty Free Tennis - Day Ten

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 16: Lloyd Harris of South Africa reacts during his singles match against Dominic Thiem of Austria during Day Ten of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on March 16, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- South African qualifier Lloyd Harris stunned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4 in the Austrian’s opening match at the Dubai Championships.

Harris hit nine aces and didn’t allow fourth-ranked Thiem a single break point as he booked a third-round match against Filip Krajinovic.

The 81st-ranked Harris needed just 72 minutes to dispatch the top-seeded Thiem.

“Obviously, I’m super happy with that win, by far the highest-ranked player I’ve beaten. I look up to Domi a lot, so for me its a special feeling and I’m really happy,” Harris said in an on-court interview.

“I was serving really well. I played some of the important points very well, so I’m very proud of that.”

In contrast to Thiem, second-seeded Andrey Rublev swept past qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-4 to move into the third round without facing a break point. In the next round, Rublev plays Taylor Fritz, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

It was the Russian’s first win on court since he took the Rotterdam title on March 7. Rublev reached the semifinals of last week’s Qatar Open without playing after back-to-back walkovers before losing to Roberto Bautista Agut.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, seeded third, won the opening five games on the way to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jan-Lennard Struff. He next faces Hubert Hurkacz.

Bautista Agut played just 28 minutes as his Australian opponent Matthew Ebden retired with the Spanish player leading 4-1 in the opening set. Bautista Agut is seeded fourth and will face Jannik Sinner in the round of 16.