Top-seed Lloyd Harris has broken into the top 100 in the world for the first time on the back of his Launceston International win on Sunday.
The groundbreaking 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Lorenzo Giustino inside 50 minutes was the 21-year-old’s third ATP Challenger singles title.
A resolute Harris reached his goal of winning a tournament final early in the year.
“It sets it up very nicely,” he said of the 2019 season.
“The win is a big boost with the ranking system and all the points you can get from winning this title.
“It just makes my route throughout the year a lot easier to eventually now break into the top 100.”
The Capetonian now joins former South African and 2018 winner Marc Polmans in not dropping a single set at the 2019 tournament.
But unlike the unseeded Melbourne-based Polmans who was eliminated in the first round, this year’s favourite fulfilled all expectations.
“I felt I just played really well throughout the whole week,” Harris said.
“I started off from the first match serving well, playing well, just competing hard, trying to find my best tennis.
“It’s just been a phenomenal week here for me.”
Giustino took the opening four points of the match on serve, but two games later Harris broke back to lead 2-1.
The contest right from the outset had all the hallmarks of an enthralling final.
The Italian’s hot serve had proven a powerful weapon early that left Harris dumbfounded on occasion, but the sheer power and finesse of his ground strokes off the 197cm frame ensured Giustino’s serve was broken a second time to win the first set.
Harris broke again off the third game of the next set, but 12th-seeded Giustino in just his second career final fought hard and prevented three break points to trail 3-2.
The roles were reversed just minutes later when Harris had to call on three aces maintain his service break.
Giustino handed the win to Harris with an unforced error into the net, but felt he played his best considering the circumstances.
“I’m sorry today that I think I was a bit tired,” the 27-year-old from Naples said.
“I put my effort in, but it was not enough to play against a terrific guy.”