It was a day of firsts on the final Sunday of the 2017 Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster. In a singles final between two men looking for their first ATP title, American Ryan Harrison saved all 12 break points he faced to top Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 6-4.
The 24-year-old has been on a redemption of sorts over the past 12 months, after peaking five years ago at #43 in the world. Since last year’s Memphis Open, Harrison has risen from outside the Top 150 to, ironically, match that career mark of #43 when tomorrow’s rankings are released.
After cruising to a 6-1 first set win, Harrison struggled to hold serve in the second. But, much like in his semifinal win over Donald Young, the American held his nerve and won the points that mattered most.
“Honestly, he outplayed me for most of the second set,” Harrison said. “I just happened to save a lot of break points and convert on the only one I had.
It happens like that in tennis sometimes – I was just fortunate to be the one saving the opportunities I had. I don’t think I had a single easy hold in the second.”
The loss was disappointing for Basilashvili, but Harrison believes that tennis fans have not seen the last of the young Georgian.
“Nik’s a good player, he’s gonna be really, really good,” Harrison said. “He has a lot of upside and hits the crud out of the ball. I look forward to playing him a lot.”
For Harrison, the week was made extra special because of the tournament’s proximity to his friends and family as well as his personal history at the event.
“This was the first place I ever saw a professional tennis match,” Harrison said. “I always remember Memphis; the first time I played here as a player I could have walked through this club with my eyes closed because I knew it so well.
Also playing in the doubles final after his singles triumph, Harrison and partner Steve Johnson fell to Brian Baker and Nikola Mektic 6-3, 6-4. For the American Baker and the Croat Mektic, the win was their first ATP title as well. The victory was especially sweet for Baker, a Nashville native, who has overcome several surgeries that have caused him to start-and-stop his career.