Ryan Harrison Interview - US Open, Sept 1Posted on September 1, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You played Ljubicic before this year. You probably watched him for a few years. Was this a good matchup for you? Was it a good matchup going in?
RYAN HARRISON: Yeah, like you said, I played him in Indian Wells. I know kind of what I'm going to get from him. He serves very well. Off the ground he's pretty steady, doesn't miss a lot. He relies on you to make some mental errors and uses his experience and his serve and his ability to play to his advantage. I knew playing him in Indian Wells, I went out there I was pretty nervous. I lost the first set 6 2, but I was able to kind of put myself into a rhythm. Later in the second set -- I actually lost the second set 7 6. Coming out today I was looking forward to getting back into that rhythm and playing as aggressive as possible and using my transition game to help me.
Q. Is this a big step forward in your mind of what you can achieve?
RYAN HARRISON: It's definitely the biggest one of my career so far. So to win on this stage here and to take out a top 20 player in the world is the biggest win of my career. I've always believed in myself. I have always had confidence in myself, so obviously I'm extremely excited and really pleased with what happened.But at the same token, I'm really going to look forward to trying to get back going back into my routines of the day off, and looking forward to trying to get ready for second round.
Q. There's a lot of talk with the McEnroes, John and Patrick, about the future of American tennis. Who is the next big American star. Do you embrace that and want to be that guy?
RYAN HARRISON: Absolutely I want to be that guy. I have a ways to go. I've qualified and still have a ways to go to get there, but I'm definitely working has hard as I can. I'm really putting all the work in. I'm trying to stay open minded with everyone who is giving me their opinion and really trying to listen as much as possible and take in as much as advice as I can. Then just trying to work on the game and work on transitioning up to trying to hopefully being a full time tour player.
Q. Who has given you the best advice?
RYAN HARRISON: Roddick has been helping me since I was 15, 16 years old. Every time I see him, he's always been extremely helpful and really talked to me a lot about some of the things he experienced when he was first coming up. Obviously coaches, Patrick McEnroe, Jay Berger, Diego Moyano is working with me most of the time now. My dad coached me from the time I was two years old, and he's been you know, he's been always there for me, always there to support me throughout my entire career. He's been unbelievable about being on me to stay humble and stay you know, stay I guess just to the point where I can really focus on taking it one at a time and just taking every day as it comes.
Q. Did you really lose to your father in the city championships when you were 11, and what were the scores?
RYAN HARRISON: That's a true statement. He beat me 6 1, 6 3, and it was at Querbes Racquet Club in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Q. What was it like leading into that match?
RYAN HARRISON: With my dad or this one? (Laughter.)
Q. I know this one is bigger. With your dad.
RYAN HARRISON: With my dad? Obviously that was seven years ago, so I think it was more of a fun deal just because it was obviously I mean, obviously I was trying to win. I mean, I'm an 11 year old kid playing my dad. I wanted to win more than anything in the world at the time. But he played on the tour. He played four years in college at Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. He was a good player. He really knew how to play, and has obviously taught me my game since I was really little. So he went out and put a good beating on me, and I took it well. Everything was fine, kept working, went out to the practice court next day.
Q. First time you beat him?
RYAN HARRISON: First time I beat him I was 12. It was about a year later.
Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, you were never ranked higher than 7th in the world as a junior. Are you a late bloomer at 18? What's come on for you now?
RYAN HARRISON: Well, I was never ranked higher than 7 in the world, but I could still play juniors this year. That's the thing. I mean, I started playing pros when I was 16. I made semis in the Australian Open when I was 15. I played the rest of the Slams throughout that year. I got to a point where I felt like I could start making some strides professionally at the Futures level and trying to start qualifying for some pro events. My goal was always to play professional tennis. I always wanted to go out and give myself a chance to play the highest level. Once I felt like I played all the big stages, I played all four Grand Slams, and, you know, I got to 7 in the world like you said, I felt like at that point I could start transitioning to the pro tennis, because I got to experience everything could I as a junior.
Q. Was variety a big thing for your dad? Did it matter to him?
RYAN HARRISON: In my game?
RYAN HARRISON: Definitely. He wanted me to have an all court game where I could you know, I feel like I'm quick enough to play defense when I need to. I'm comfortable playing at the net, and I still can use my forehand and my backhand up the line. I felt like there's a -- you have to have a base of the way you're trying to play and the way you go out there and play people. But the all court game really allows me to kind of taper my opponent a little bit more. Obviously if you have a guy that doesn't pass as well, I will be looking at serving and volleying, transition a little bit more. If you've got a guy that's pretty inconsistent, then at that point I'll use my speed and ability to stay steady from the ground.
Q. Watching you on Court 11, you didn't seem to show a lot of emotion during the match. Is that your style? Are you a calm player, or just trying to stay cool today?
RYAN HARRISON: I usually do show a lot of emotion. I can usually get pretty fired up. I talked to my dad a little bit last night. He was playing three out of five sets, playing in the heat in the midday, you're gonna need to save your energy. You don't want to get extremely fired up early and start getting to a point where you're stressing yourself out and burn off nervous energy that you don't need to burn off.So at that point, I just tried to, you know, pick the right moments. Obviously you can't pick an exact point, but it's more of a feel thing. Toward the later ends of the first set, obviously the tiebreaker in the second set, I was trying to pick myself up and get the crowd involved. And then especially in the beginning of the third set, once I lost the second set and was trying to get back on top, I really was trying to use the crowd there and use the energy to come back in a positive manner. I felt like I did a good job of it.
Q. What are the sort of things that Andy has told you about working at the game and maybe about playing another player? Can you recall any of the specifics of that?
RYAN HARRISON: Um, you know, Andy has always been great about making sure that I keep working hard. I mean, most of the time whenever he's talking to me he's talking to me a lot about working on certain parts of my game. You know, working on X, Y, Z, trying to you know, basically taking me aside and saying, Look, this is going to make you win now in futures and challengers, but you won't be able to do this in two years. So you're gonna need to work on this. And then obviously whenever I play certain players, he'll say, you know, I've played this guy here; this is what I had success with; this is what you do well.
Q. Can you recount the specific for that?
RYAN HARRISON: Um, you know, it depends. It all depends on the match.I mean, for example, you know, like I said before, I'm comfortable playing defense and moving and playing defensively. But at the same token, you're not able to do that at the highest level. I mean, you'll get guys in the futures and challengers to make some mistakes and to kind of give you a little bit more openings. And at this level, you're gonna have to go out there and really earn everything. It's more of a this is my offensive game and this is your offensive game, and I'm going to play and I'm going to try to show you that what I can do is better than what you can do.
Q. What have you learned since you've played in Australia, and do you feel any different coming into this level of a tournament now?
RYAN HARRISON: Obviously the more matches you play at a certain level the more comfortable you get. I mean, that's just kind of the way it is. The more you're in a situation, I guess the more accustomed to it you get. I kind of -- this being only my second main draw of a slam, I took some time to think about it before, looking back at things that I didn't do well and things I did do well. In Australia I lot 6 2, 6 4, 7 6, so clearly as the match got on I got a little bit more comfortable and I got a little bit more closer to playing at that level because I was getting closer in the score. So I just took a second to think about how I was playing toward the end of that match and how I was really able to have success, and just tried to tap back into that mentality. And then obviously I feel like I've improved in the last eight months, and so just try to use some of the things that I do better now.
Q. It's rare for a qualifier to beat a ranked player. You seem like you thought you could do thi. You don't seem overwhelmed by it. Like, Oh, my god I did this.
RYAN HARRISON: Obviously I'm extremely excited. I'm really excited for myself, and I'm really happy. I've got a great team around me. I'm really thankful to have all the great support that I have. By the same token, I have another match; I got second round. So you always hear about everybody, you know, you have a big win and there is a lull match in there that you don't play so well. The entire focus from the time I get back to the hotel tonight till when I play again on Friday is going to be preparation for the second round. Because, you know, at the same token, I'm extremely excited. I did always believe in myself and believed I was capable of doing this. I believe I'm capable of going out and having success again second round.
Q. Ljubicic said that he thought the fact that you came through the quallies as opposed to getting a wildcard probably helped you. Do you feel that's the case?
RYAN HARRISON: Absolutely it did. Playing on these courts week before, winning matches, I mean, winning builds and confidence builds winning. It goes back and forth. But winning those three matches and, you know, getting used to the courts and used to playing a certain style of play has helped me an extreme amount going into today.
Q. What did he say to you afterwards? Anything?
RYAN HARRISON: He just said, Great playing and good luck. He's a class guy. I mean, he's been out here for 12, 15 years, and I have an extreme amount of respect for him and everything he's done and the way, you know, the way his career has been. I think he's been up to No. 3 in the world. Whenever I was coming up as a little kid, seven, eight years old, I used to watch him play on TV in later stages of Grand Slams. So I've always had an extreme amount of respect for him, and I'm really happy to have success today. But at the same token, I think he's a tremendous player. I mean, he's a great player, and he's proved that time and time again for the last 15 years. He was just saying, Good luck and congrats.
Q. What level of schooling have you had?
RYAN HARRISON: My mom was an ex school teacher. She home schooled me and my little brother from the time I was in sixth grade, and then she stayed pretty on me and him from the time we were little about school. Because obviously her being a school teacher, she was able to teach us in a home schooling environment that was better than most home schooling environments would be, because she had the experience of teaching. That's what we've been doing ever since, and I graduated my senior year at a high school last May.
Q. You actually were not in attendance at that school?
RYAN HARRISON: No, I was doing online school.
Q. She was not pushing the college route at all?
RYAN HARRISON: Um, you know, my parents' biggest thing was for me to be happy, me to be doing what I dreamed of doing from the time I was five years old. She's always heard me talk about playing the US Open, playing Wimbledon, or playing professional tennis. So whenever I was presented with an opportunity to sign with IMG, which was turning professional at 15 years old, you know, it wasn't obviously you know, she's never played tennis; she's never played athletics, so she didn't really you know, she didn't really know too much about it. But she knew that this was my dream and this is what I wanted to do. And with my dad obviously playing professionally and throughout college, I'm sure had a lot I haven't asked him specifically but I'm sure he spoke to her about it a lot. They were, you know, they were very supportive of me pursuing my dream, and I'm really thankful to have the support that I do.
Q. Have you trained in Boca with some of the USTA developmental coaches, and what's that experience been like?
RYAN HARRISON: I have been down there training one time. That was the week before the wildcard event for this event, which was a couple days before I came up here. They've been extremely helpful. I mean, most of the time you're on the road, which is kind of the lifestyle of us, and so we're on the road a lot. But at the same token, we're working on things and trying to transition things into our game at the same time we're in actual events, because you're just trying to improve and trying to get better. They have been extremely helpful to me, as well as Nick Bollettieri and those guys in Bradenton.
Q. Have you played a lot of tournaments in hotter weather than this?
RYAN HARRISON: Um, actually last week the wildcard tournament well, two weeks ago. The wildcard tournament in Boca we were playing midday, three out of five sets. I was playing the finals against Tim Smyczek, who beat me there and got a wildcard here. It was probably about 105. The on court temperature was 125 degrees, and there was a complete heat rule in effect the whole time during that event. So training there for a week and a half to two weeks before was great preparation coming up here. Whereas it is extremely hot here and it is tough outside, it's not what it was in Boca.