Ryan Harrison’s emotional journey from “next up” to “bust” to rededicating himself to tennis came full circle on Sunday when the unseeded American beat fellow un-seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Memphis Open for his first career title.
“This was the first place I saw a professional tennis match, driving up from Shreveport,” said a tearful Harrison, who fought off all 12 break point he faced. “I will always remember Memphis. All those emotions were coming out there at the end. You have dreams and aspirations in life and for me it’s trying to be as great as I can in tennis. For me to come back here and win this title when I had thought it was impossible, it’s amazing.”
The 24-year-old ran to a 5-1 lead in the first set, and in the second set broke for 4-2 then toughed out the win.
“I don’t think I had a single easy hold in the second set,” Harrison said. “He came out and was playing really good tennis. Honestly, he outplayed me most of the second set and I managed to save a bunch of break points and convert on the only one I had. But that happens in tennis. I was fortunate to be the one saving the opportunities.”
It was Harrison’s second consecutive win after a victory at the Dallas Challenger. He will return to the Top 50 after entering the tournament at No. 62 on the ATP rankings. He is the first American winner in Memphis since Andy Roddick in 2011.
Basilashvili fell to 0-2 in career finals.
“In the first set, I could not find any rhythm,” the 24-year-old said. “I was not going for my shots and playing very defensive. Ryan was serving really well on the break points. I had a lot of chances in the second set, but the energy wasn’t great today. It hurts so much, but you have to learn from this for the next matches.”
Harrison also won the last time the two played, at an ITF Futures event in California when the two were 16 years old.
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