Fixture: Stan Wawrinka vs Lloyd Harris
Date: 9 March 2021
Tournament: Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2021
Round: First Round (Round of 32)
Venue: Doha, Qatar
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $787,930
Match timing: Not before 6 pm local time, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | India - Eurosport
Stan Wawrinka vs Lloyd Harris preview
World No. 20 Stan Wawrinka will be looking to get his 2021 season back on track in Doha, as he takes on South Africa's Lloyd Harris in the first round.
Wawrinka had reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last year, but the COVID-enforced tour suspension took away all of his momentum. The Swiss has accumulated a 10-8 W-L since the tour resumption, failing to go past the last-eight stage at any tournament he has entered.
Wawrinka did give a good account of himself in his last tournament of 2020, the Paris Masters, where he won three matches before losing to Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. But the three-time Major champion has not been able to bring that form into the new year, suffering first-round defeats to Marton Fucsovics and Karen Khachanov at the Australian Open and the Rotterdam event respectively.
Lloyd Harris, meanwhile, is no pushover when it comes to facing top-level opponents; the big-hitting South African memorably took a set off eventual runner-up Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2019.
Currently ranked No. 84 in the world, Harris reached his maiden tour final last year at Adelaide - where he lost to Andrey Rublev.
Stan Wawrinka vs Lloyd Harris head-to-head
The first-round match at the Qatar Open will be the first-ever career meeting between Stan Wawrinka and Lloyd Harris, so the head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
Stan Wawrinka vs Lloyd Harris prediction
Stan is far from the Man he once used to be, having struggled to get consistent results on the professional tour over the last few years. That said, the Swiss is still capable of playing his power-packed brand of tennis at times.
Wawrinka has the ability to take the racquet out of his opponent's hands with his big groundstrokes from both wings. The 35-year-old also has an efficient block return, which will likely be useful against Lloyd Harris' huge first serves.
The South African is not a bad mover for someone who is 6'5" tall, and he has particularly good footwork when running around his backhand. If Harris strikes his inside-out forehand well, he could cause plenty of problems to his older opponent.
That said, Wawrinka's down-the-line backhand is still good enough to get him out of jail. If the Swiss is on his game, he should be able to douse the challenge posed by Harris.
Prediction: Stan Wawrinka to win in three sets.