It’s a big year for Ryan Harrison.
The American raised his own bar to an all-time high in 2017, with a first ATP title in Memphis, and an impressive French Open doubles win—before peaking at number 40 in the world.
Now at 26, Ryan has found his groove on tour once more. After a handful of frustrating seasons, he’s ready to kick on. With a confidence-boosting season under his belt, and promising performances in the first half of 2018, the man from Louisiana is looking skywards…
UPS AND DOWNS
Ryan’s talent became apparent from a young age. He proved a supreme force as a junior, reaching the Australian Open semi-final and achieving a very respectable win/loss record of 60-24. Turning pro at 15 was certainly a brave decision. And one which has had a long term bearing over Ryan’s career and how he has evolved as a player.
“It forced me to adapt quickly, and there is a steep learning curve,” Ryan reflects.
“I’ve had my ups and downs in my career, and I strongly believe going through the ups and downs have made me a stronger, more mature player on and off the court.”
It’s this maturity that’s helped shape and reinvigorate Ryan’s game over the last 18-months. His approach to tennis may have changed, but he’s conscious there’s still a long way to go…
“I am more selective in my scheduling now and have to continue to think about the long term rather than short term. I want to keep playing for at least another ten years, my career is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Ryan is known for his serve, forehand and feisty attitude on-court. And it’s these core strengths he knows he needs to play to and improve on as the season progresses.
“My weapons have always been my serve and forehand. I’m always working on staying aggressive and trying to dictate points. I don’t think my game has changed all that much over the years. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve worked with all my coaches on using these weapons more effectively.”
He also continues to throw himself into doubles tennis after playing it regularly from junior level, and sees it as a way to work on the other elements in his game.
“Doubles has helped my singles tremendously, with a focus on my volleys and returns.”
[WATCH] Harrison/Venus Upset Kontinen/Peers In Nitto ATP Finals 2017 Round Robin
Ryan continues to show glimpses of the awesome form that earned him maiden and Grand Slam wins last season, and you can really feel the optimism he’s carrying right now.
“My clay season wasn’t as good as I hoped, but the season is long and all tennis players have to have short memories. There is only one player who walks away from a tournament happy and that’s the winner. I am fired up about the American summer. I always play well in the US.”
With the US Open on the horizon, and a packed summer schedule ahead of him, you’d excuse Ryan for concentrating on his singles game. However there’s also the small matter of the Davis Cup…
“I started off the year great, reaching the final in Brisbane and 3rd round in Australia. But I’ve also been fortunate enough to play Davis Cup for the US twice so far, and I’m extremely thrilled about reaching the semi finals! I was able to play doubles in each tie which was awesome.”
[WATCH] Harrison/Sock take victory against Belgium to qualify for the Davis Cup semi finals
It’s inspired him to push on and brought fresh focus to his season…
“I’ve always wanted to play for my country, and I think we have a great shot of winning the title this year. We are very deep and all of our guys can play both singles and doubles.”
“Winning the Davis Cup is probably my biggest personal goal this season. The ladies have been dominating in Fed Cup the last few years. Now it’s our turn to also bring home the title.”
He relishes team tennis, and admits playing for his country is always a proud moment. “I think tennis needs more team formats because it creates such an exciting atmosphere for the fans.”
“Representing USA has been one of the highlights in my career.”
There’s a new urgency and confidence to Ryan Harrison.
He made another semi final appearance in June, on the grass at the Eastbourne International, alongside doubles partner Nicholas Monroe. And with a Davis Cup Semi Final in the diary, you can’t help but feel he’s on the up.
The right-hander is now looking beyond the huge expectations that were thrust upon him as a young pro—arguably too early in his fledgling career. Today we see a more considered player. But make no mistake, that spark, passion and on-court aggression is still there for all to see.
“I want to keep improving and maintain a strong presence on tour. Every player looks at the rankings and I want mine to keep improving.”
And what’s the ultimate dream?
“If I could achieve one thing in tennis, it would be to win the US Open and be the first American to do so since Roddick. Americans are waiting for another male grand slam champion.”