Andrew Harris has set his sights on a place inside the world’s top 150 by the end of the year after enjoying a career-best run in 2019.
The 25-year-old Victorian has made the most of his longest injury-free period to surge inside the top 200 for the first time in recent months.
And Harris has told emageogroup.com he’s not done yet, with three events remaining to make an impact on the ATP Challenger Tour this season.
Coming off a doubles title in China alongside Marc Polmans, Harris is finishing with two Challengers in Australia before his final tournament in Japan. The sixth seed is due to take on fellow Australian James Duckworth in the quarterfinals of the Traralgon Challenger tomorrow.
“It’s been a great year for me,” Harris said. “It’s been my best year on tour yet and I think a big part of that has just been that I’ve actually had my first full healthy year on tour.
“It’s the first time in my career that I’ve had a full year without having a long injury layoff.
“I started the year off strong in India, made my first Challenger Final and beat a lot of good players on the way there. I played really well for a few months because I was really confident, got my ranking up and just kept building on it and now the goal is to be top 150 by the end of the year. A few good consistently deep results will help.
“It will be tough but it’s achievable. You’ve got to have a bit of luck fall your way.”
Harris had his first stress fracture in his back at 16, before a bulging disc at the end of his junior career when he was 18 kept him out for 11 months.
On top of his back issues, Harris has also had osteitis pubis and a knee problem.
He has missed a lot of tennis over the years but has found a way to manage his body better.
“Tennis Australia strength and conditioning coach Damian Prasad has adapted my programs really specifically to me so I don’t aggravate my back so it’s been really good,” he said.
“I’ve been able to just manage my schedule better too. It’s constant management with my back.
“I hope to get those four years, or whatever I missed when I was younger, back at the back end of my career hopefully. You never know but that’s the hope that I have.”
Harris hit the tour after finishing a successful college career at the University of Oklahoma in mid 2017.
“I never planned to go to college,” Harris said. “Then after my last year of juniors I got my bulging disc in my back. It was sort of what made me decide to go down the college pathway. It wasn’t for everyone but I thought it helped me a lot. There’s no regrets in going there, that’s for sure.
“You are able to get a lot of matches there and get your body bigger and stronger and mentally be right. It’s tough coming out of juniors and just heading onto the tour, you can take a lot of losses and it can be really tough mentally. But I came out of college really fresh and hungry and ready to go. With everyone playing older these days, I wasn’t worried about coming out on tour a bit later than what a lot of other people would normally do.”
Harris won doubles titles with Nick Kyrgios as a junior and is also close to another Australian who has had his injury troubles over the years in Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“Thanasi I see still a lot,” he said. “I see him around a lot in Melbourne where he trains and we meet at some of the Challengers and obviously Nick, I grew up playing with him. They are both good guys and good friends of mine.
“The way Nick has taken to the Tour has been incredible, how fast he rose up the rankings from when he was junior and then up into the top 100, it all happened really fast. He is obviously really exciting to watch and it’s good to see him be successful.”
And he is determined to play grand slam tennis in 2020.
“I just proved to myself that when I’m playing with confidence and playing on my terms and playing the way I want to play, I can match it with a lot of good players,” Harris said.
“I would love to be playing in the main draw of the grand slams so that means top 100 is the goal next year. I came very close at Wimbledon and the next step is to now either qualify, go one step further, or getting my ranking higher to get directly into this main draw.
“The Australian summer of tennis is always awesome and it will be good if I can play well and go on a bit of a run this summer.”