Andrew Harris has described his Australian Open debut as incredible experience that has made him even more determined to break inside the top 100.
Harris stepped out on the biggest stage of his career on Monday when he hit Melbourne Arena against world No.8 Matteo Berrettini in the first grand slam of the year.
While the 25-year-old Victorian didn’t get the result he was after, he took plenty out of the 6-3 6-1 6-3 loss to the star Italian.
“It was obviously an incredible experience being able to play my first main draw slam on such a big court and obviously against a top-10 player,” Harris said.
“I learnt a few lessons out there like just about handling the occasion. I didn’t really feel like I freed up and played my game until two sets to love down so that was a bit of a disappointing thing. I had a few looks on his serve and he served really well to get himself out of trouble in a few spots. He’s a world-class player and his serve is one of the best in the world so it was always going to be tough.
“I’m just a bit disappointed that I couldn’t play as well as I know I’m capable of for long periods.
“I didn’t know what court I was going to get initially but then being able to play on the second or third biggest court here was awesome.
“I set the bar very high for myself. I’m a bit notorious for putting a bit too much pressure on myself. You train your whole life for a moment like this, an experience like this and it was really cool that I could have all my family and friends and a lot of important people to me that were able to come out and watch.”
After a nervous start, Harris showed he belonged at the top level.
“I can definitely match it for certain periods of the match,” Harris said. “He just maintained his level throughout. That’s someone I need to do next to get better is just maintain my level for long periods of time. I’ll just give myself chances to close out some sets, I wasn’t able to do that today. He is an incredible player and I definitely get a bit of confidence knowing that he’s eight in the world and I like to think it was a bit closer than the score suggested.
“The Australian Open is one of the best tournaments in the world, if not the best. I’ve had my fair share of experiences like that (others have) on the Challenger Tour. You might be playing is some horrible spots with literally one person watching. That’s what makes this sort of experience much more rewarding, knowing you’ve done the hard yards. From now I just want to get top 100 and get motoring.”
Harris said he would put his prize money to good use after he was only able to bring his coach Jarryd Maher to three tournaments last year.
“This money from the Open puts towards investing in him,” he said. “He has helped me so much with my tennis and I think if I take him away for more tournaments my results will get better and hopefully crack the top 100.”
Harris is set to play doubles alongside Chris O’Connell against fellow Australians James Duckworth and Marc Polmans later in the week.