The American dream of bringing home a title in Flushing looks all but finished as America’s top player, Andy Roddick, went down in a tough loss to Janko Tipsarevic last night. Though there is still a glimmer of hope with Mardy Fish, John Isner, and Sam Querrey all left in the draw. And have no fear, Ryan Harrison is here. Harrison is an 18-year-old (American) stud out of New Braunfels, Texas. Could he be the next big thing in American tennis?
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5520935&categoryid=2491545 (Harrison ESPN interview with McEnroe)
Harrison defeated the 15th seeded and 17th ranked player in the world, Ivan Ljubicic in his first round match. This was Harrison’s first time winning a match in a Grand Slam and he accomplished the feat with great grace and ease. He had the look of a savvy veteran. In winning this match, Harrison became the first American teenager to defeat a top 20 player in a Grand Slam tournament in over 9 years. The last American to do this was Andy Roddick. At the age of 19, Roddick burst onto the scene with a big time victory over the 11th seeded Alex Corretja (at the US Open). Could this kid be the second coming of ARod?
Ryan Harrison quietly burst onto the scene a couple of years ago when he won an ATP level match against the world #130 at the time, Pablo Cuevas. This was at the 2008 US Clay Court Championships. He became the 3rd youngest player to win a match at this level since 1990 (Nadal, Gasquet were younger), and the 10th player in the history of the ATP to have won a match on tour before the age of 16. This kid has been a long time coming. He has just been vastly overlooked until now.
I personally saw Harrison play in 2004 when I attended John Newcombe’s Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Texas (Harrison’s old training grounds). While walking into the camp that first day, there was a kid out hitting with his father and his little brother (Christian, who is an internationally ranked junior player). The kids were absolutely amazing demonstrating a phenomenal consistency level, outstanding conditioning, and a drive like I had not seen on a tennis court. Well I got a further taste of the Harrison brothers later in the week during drills and match play. These kids hit the ball with pace, kept it deep, never missed, and refused to give up on a single point during the course of an 8 hour training day. I have seen many very strong tennis players in my time, but I knew this kid was the real deal. Could he finally be realizing his potential now?
Currently Harrison is the 220th ranked player in the world and rising. Could he win another match or two this year in Flushing? I do not see why not. His next opponent is the 36th ranked player on the tour, Sergi Stakhovsky. Ryan Harrison is a name to remember now when discussing American tennis. He brings some hope back to American tennis connoisseur.
I know I will be pulling for the youngster to go deep in Flushing.
Say hello to the world, Ryan Harrison.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.