It has been a long and windy career path for 24-year-old American Ryan Harrison but on Saturday the 8th time was the charm. Playing in his 8th ATP semifinal, Harrison finally broke through and reached a Tour-level final at the 2017 Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster beating countryman Donald Young 6-4, 6-4.
Harrison jumped out to a 6-4, 5-2 lead and served for the match, but let four match points slip away before finally closing it out in his second attempt serving.
“I’m out there, have match point … blow three of them … and I’m just sitting there,” Harrison said. “I was just (thinking): this is a fun crowd, fun atmosphere, life is pretty good. Even if I get broken life’s going to go on.”
Not only did Harrison’s life go on, but his night on Center Court did as well. Harrison partnered with fellow American Steve Johnson to defeat 2nd seeded Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin 7-6, 6-2. Harrison and Johnson will play Brian Baker and Nikola Mektic in Sunday’s doubles final. That match will follow the 3 pm singles final where Harrison will face Nikoloz Basilasvhili, who is also searching for his first title. The two have never played.
Harrison has had a roller coaster of a career since turning pro in 2008 at age 16. He reached a career-high ranking of #43 in the world in 2012 as a teenager but dropped to as low as #168 last year. However, with this result in Memphis, combined with a Challenger win in Dallas two weeks prior, Harrison is projected to return to the ATP’s Top 50.
“I guess that’s why it’s a good thing my career got started early,” Harrison said. “I feel like things are coming together, and I’m not 32 or 33. There’s a lot of room for improvement … I know that I can keep building and keep getting better.”
Harrison credits his success, in part, to a change in mindset about his career and his game.
“I think it’s probably the fact that I hit so low of a point and really reached a point of no return,” Harrison said. “When I’m out there right now I’m not freaking out, I’m just calm. I’m just having as much fun as I can.”