South Africa's Kevin Anderson and Lloyd Harris had mixed fortunes on the opening day of the 2018 US Open.
Anderson, seeded fifth for this final grand slam tournament of the year, had to dig deep to outlast Ryan Harrison in five sets.
Incredibly tough match yesterday. Ryan played really well. I wasn't feeling my best but still tried my best for every point. Winning a match like this made the hard work and pain worth it. Thanks to Court 17 for the support and staying late. 🙏 #usopen pic.twitter.com/pE5tMGETNQ— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) August 28, 2018
The 32-year-old Anderson claimed the opening set after edging the tie-break 7-4, but then the American bounced back to win the next two sets. Harrison claimed the pivotal 11th game in the second set to take it 7-5 and then broke the big-serving South African again in the third to win 6-4.
Anderson, however, was not broken again as he found his ground-stroke range to get the better of Harrison 6-3 and 6-4 in the final two sets to claim victory after four hours and 14 minutes.
The match represented a stuttering start for Anderson, who fell to Rafael Nadal in last year's final (his first Grand Slam final) but will be pleased to get through the challenge and rest his left calf, which he grabbed at during the third set.
Earlier, Harris lost in straight sets to unseeded Frenchman Gilles Simon; 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
The writing was on the wall from the off for the 21-year-old from Cape Town, who qualified for the main draw by making his way through three qualifying matches. Harris struggled with his own big serve in his first grand slam appearance, managing just 39 percent of first serves during the opening set... not good enough to hold off the 40th-ranked player in the world.
Harris, ranked 145th in the world, initially showed more fight in the second set (even saving break points in the fourth game) but thereafter Simon -- a former world number six -- took complete control of the match by winning the final four games of the set.
Typical of South African sportsman, Harris chose not to be beaten without a fight as he even broke the Simon serve for the first time during the third set. However, he could not avoid losing his own serve again and the 33-year-old Simon showed his experience to comfortably close out the match.
Prior to qualifying for the US Open, Harris claimed his first ATP Challenger Tour title (and three other ITF tournaments earlier in the year) to rubber-stamp his potential, and will undoubtedly have learned from his first experience at a major tennis event too.