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Harrison’s Progress Encouraging

This was a big tournament for Ryan Harrison, he’s the big ballyhooed American young gun who hasn’t skyrocketed to stardom just yet but he has shown glimpses of becoming an ATP force.

Harrison has many fine qualities – he’s a mature, intelligent person and player. He has tremendous defensive and counterpunching talents. He is a tenacious competitor who will battle to the end with a knack for grinding out five setters. He’s an excellent athlete and mover. He’s a big stage player who seems to perform his best on the show courts. You can see him becoming a Chang-like player someday.

“Ryan Harrison has improved greatly,” said Justin Gimelstob moments after Harrison was defeated by Andy Murray at the Australian Open.

It was a four set loss for the 19-year-old American but it was an encouraging performance against the highly regarded Murray who Brad Gilbert is predicting will win two majors this year and achieve the #1 ranking.

Harrison took a set off Soderling at the French Open last year and defeated Dodig at Wimbledon but he went down in flames at the U.S. Open to Cilic. Harrison also posted singles wins over Troicki and Hanescu last year and reached #79 in the ATP ranks. Perhaps his finest moments of 2011 were winning the doubles title in Newport with Aussie partner Matthew Ebden, defeating hot hand Milos Raonic in Indian Wells, and making the semis of the Atlanta event (lost to Fish) which catapulted Harrison into the top 100 for the first time.

Yes it was another first round Grand Slam loss to Murray yesterday but I still like the way Harrison is playing and competing and flattening out his forehand, driving his backhand, playing smart tennis, keeping a positive attitude. He’s still just 19 and he is on the right path. What do you think?


  • Harold · January 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Gilbert predicted he’d be in the top ten in eighteen months. Personally I think that bar wont be reached, unless theres massive retirements..He has a good first serve, second serve and forehand. Looks like a fighter, but has a shitty court demeanor..Walks like Agassi, acts like Roddick, not two complinets in my book.
    Think the other 19 year olds, Tomic and Raoncic will have better careers

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    A lot of young players show bad atttiudes early in their careers, even Federer was a racquet thrower, look at McEnroe, Rios, Safin, Agassi. You have to overlook that, tennis can be agonizing, these players devote their whole lives to win these matches, when they fail it’s devastating. So they can’t all be perfect machines like mature Federer, Nadal, Sampras, Borg. Harrison will be fine, he’ll put it all together at some point. Who knows, he might surpass Tomic and Raonic, you never know, you never know when these super talents will make their growth spurts. Harrison has the right attitude he has greatly impressed me many times on and off court, he is on a positive trajectory, unlike, hate to say it, Oudin unfortunately. Harold, what does Agassi’s walk have to do with anything? And Roddick’s had one helluva career, top 10 and top 20 all those years, I think there’s more than a few ATP players who would happily trade places with Roddick.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Gilbert also predicted Murray will win two slams and become #1 this year.

  • Dan markowitz · January 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Me thinks Brad is nuts. And I’ll give you the statistic why. Harry was serving 110 mph on 2nd deliveries, Murray 88mph. What’s Djoko, fed and Nadal going to do with that. He doesn’t have the serve or the fear hand.

    And if Harry’s great at grinding out 5-setters, how come he went down 6-2 in 4th today?

  • Harold · January 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Just that half-bowlegged walk…probably copied it as a kid, as far as the Roddick court demeanor, just premature thinking hes intimidating. Just my opinion, but he seems to have the same arrogance that Roddick thought being the top young American bought. Win something first

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Murray is the far superior player right now, Murray is a two time finalist there and Harrison is basically a sacrificial lamb. Harry gave a good test to Murray though, he showed he can play elite ATP tennis in a major, good way to start the year off.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Roddick in his younger days actually reminds me now of Harrison, very intense and driven and unstoppably determined, there’s a coltish frisky quality about them. Of course Roddick changed matured once he did make it to the top, but the way Harrison is now reminds me of the very young Roddick and I think that’s a good thing.

  • Andrew Miller · January 18, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Ryan Harrison is a tough competitor – he is definitely never say die, and as Dan pointed out, possesses great court coverage. His serve looked well placed also.

    Differences with past american greats and the current crop: no weapons. I have felt this for a while, and it’s not a criticism of Harrison but a fact. Current top U.S. players – Fish, Roddick, Blake all had weapons. Fish – the huge serve, the world class backhand, a great volley, now the excellent fitness. Roddick – the monster serve (in the past), the sick forehand (in the past), the excellent fitness, the pretty darn amazing consistency. Most of the time in the top ten, Roddick rarely beat himself – a lot of the time, he just wasn’t better than the guys ahead of him. Blake – just a sick, sick forehand – probably the hardest hit forehand this side of Gulbis; the fastest player on tour; and a go for broke style that worked for as long as Blake was healthy; as well as sheer athleticism – Blake was an excellent athlete.

    Where is Harrison in that description? I don’t see it in the ground strokes – it’s a lot of winning ugly out there. He pounds the short ball – that is a big shot in today’s game. But is anything Harrison do really or even conceivably in the top 5, with the exception of his toughness? That’s the only thing I can see – he is a tough player. But not one of his shots matches even the declining U.S. players, which for me is not a good sign.

    In comparison with the past great players, let’s just say this: all of them were superior. Michael Chang was vastly better, Agassi leagues and leagues better, Sampras – we just cannot compare the two, we can’t compare them at all. It’s hard even to compare Harrison against Malivai Washington, Aaron Krickstein, Todd Martin or David Wheaton, given that all of them had one or another weapon out there.

    Bottom line: Harrison needs to improve a lot. Being able to grind everyone down is a pre-requisite of today’s game, but for Harrison NOTHING will be easy, given that his game, technically, is hard on the eyes and, I would think, on the body as well. He needs something – maybe a better court sense or a smoother forehand, something a Robert Lansdorp would help him develop, to sharpen his shots up.

    Sure, he went four sets with Murray. And yes, he shows some game and always shows grit, and never gives up. But there’s nothing else out there – no strategy, no court sense, and no go-to shots in tight spots, the stuff that all the best players have. Kudos to Ryan Harrison for throwing everything he has at Andy Murray – I am sure that sometime soon he will even beat Murray, maybe even as soon as a month or two from now. But if Ryan Harrison, as is, is the future, it’s not going to look that great for the U.S. If he sharpens up his game, now we may have something.

  • Michael · January 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    @Scoop “He is a tenacious competitor who will battle to the end with a knack for grinding out five setters.”

    What does that mean a knack for grinding out five setters? Do you mean a knack for being involved in five-setters ? For losing them ?

    He hasn’t had the chance to play much three out of five. He’s had three five set matches. He’s lost all three:

    W 2011 (I assume a Lucky Loser situation explains the two losses):

    Q3 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) Loss 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, 5-7
    R64 David Ferrer (ESP) Loss 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6

    USO 2010:

    R64 Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) Loss 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(6)

    That said, I agree he has a lot of fight. That’s one of his strengths.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 19, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Thought he had more than that Mike, three is a fair amount for such a young guy, I think one day Harrison will prove to be a five set warrior and that 0-3 mark will improve. That loss to SS was a tough one, he had that one.

  • Michael · January 19, 2012 at 1:23 am

    I think Andrew’s analysis is solid.

    I’ll take Tomic and you can take RH and I’ll throw in Raonic to sweeten the deal.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 19, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Tomic and Raonic are the two best prospects right now as their rankings and achievements indicate but as we know things can change. Harrison, for all his flaws did beat Raonic at IW last year. He may seem to have a limited predictable game but he still wins matches with it. Some players are like that, they have an immeasurable X factor ability to just win matches despite tactical or technical shortcomings. Brad Gilbert, Radwanska, Chang, Santoro, Fish with his supposedly poor forehand, Spadea, Russell, Bogomolov, are some examples. Harrison may end up being this kind of player.

  • Mitch · January 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I like Harrison’s upside, but one thing that concerns me is that, so far at least, he only seems to bring his A-game to the big matches, and struggles against weaker opponents and on the smaller stages.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Plus Mitch, Harrison is a target for the opposition at those challengers because he’s been so heavily hyped.



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