A mental reset helped Billy Harris banish some second set nerves and rally to reach the second round of Wimbledon Qualifying.
Manxman Harris, who received a wildcard into the qualifying draw at Roehampton, came from a set down to beat experienced Swiss opponent Alexander Ritschard 5-7 7-6(5) 6-2 in a dramatic contest.
After narrowly being edged out in a hard-fought opener, Harris raced to a speedy 5-0 lead in the second set, only for Ritschard to take advantage of some nervy play and level the set at 5-5.
“I’ve played a lot of matches on grass now and feel really comfortable out there.” 🗣️ Charles Broom
Catch up on @Wimbledon qualifying as 4⃣ Brits moved into the 2nd round 👇— LTA (@the_LTA) June 26, 2023
But Harris was able to clinch a close tiebreaker, and the world No.346 raced through the decider to set up a second round meeting against 25th seed Hugo Gaston on Wednesday.
“The first set, I was unlucky to get broken – there was literally just one or two points in that,” commented Harris.
“At 5-0 up in the second I thought I had it but I lost a bit of concentration, almost lost the whole match, so I’m very happy to hang onto that second set and in the third set I felt like I started hitting through the ball, and was seeing the ball a lot better.”
Nerves certainly got the better of the 28-year-old in the second set, having played some of his best tennis of the match in the first five games before losing his lead.
And he was thrilled that he was able to regain his composure in the closing stages, and bring that level into a deciding set which he dominated.
He added: “I was just focusing on one point at a time, and not focusing on anything else really, just keeping it simple.
“I’m just happy that I stuck to the game plan, kept hitting through the ball, didn’t back off, and kept the pressure on.
“I saw his serve drop off a little bit, and I was able to close it out.”
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