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July 29, 2011

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2011 Farmers Classic - Los Angeles, CA, USA
July 29, 2011
Editorial By Vince Barr. Photography by Harvey Rubin.


 

Vince Barr Photo
Vince Barr

Harrison Heating Up The Farmer's Classic In The City Of Angels
 
The quarterfinals of the 85th professional tennis tournament in Los Angeles got underway yesterday with Ryan Harrison of the United States squaring off against Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). Harrison is one of the young Americans on his way up in the rankings, coming into the week at # 94 (his career high). That ranking was partially fueled courtesy of his first ATP Tour-level semifinal in Atlanta last week where he lost to Mardy Fish, who went on to win that title over John Isner. He gained admission to the Farmer's Classic through what's called a "Special Exemption" (often abbreviated as "SE" next to a player's name in a given draw). A Special Exemption occurs when a player who is not ranked high enough for direct entry into the main draw does not have a chance to participate in the qualifying tournament because he is playing late into the week at the previous tournament. It is a tool nearly all the professional tournaments have at their disposal but sometimes goes unused if no one fits into that particular category. In such cases, an extra wild card is usually given out to complete the draw.
 
Harrison is only 19 years old and won't get out of his teenage years until early next May. However, he has been on the Tour since he was 15 years old, playing mostly Challenger and Futures events. Despite this relative anonymity, he has been a player of interest to people affiliated with American tennis and was cited last year by current U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier as one of our best and brightest rising young stars. Since I had never seen him play before, I was greatly interested in how his game was put together. Justin Gimelstob, one of the Tennis Channel commentators, noted that in order for Ryan to win this particular match, he needed to "change pace as well as spin, use that heavy forehand and play aggressively from that side since that is where he has a distinct advantage over Yen-Hsun. He (Harrison) also has a big advantage in his service game. He has an unbelievable kick serve on the ad side and off the same toss, can pop it up the T or out wide," Gimelstob noted.
 
As for Lu, most people are probably not all that familiar with his game despite the fact that he sent Andy Roddick packing at last year's Wimbledon in the fourth round (a five-set encounter). Justin explained that Lu "has very good defensive skills, hits the ball flat and changes direction, especially with his forehand. These are players with two different styles: Lu hits the ball on the rise, hits the ball very flat, a clean striker. His game is rooted in movement and fitness; one of the hardest-working players on the ATP Tour. He spends his off season in Kenya where he trains up to five hours a day in the extreme heat and humidity," Gimelstob concluded. Lu entered the week as the 76th-best player in the world. He is the first player from Taiwan to break into the top 100 players in the world rankings.
 
Lu started out the match serving and won at love and went up triple break point on Ryan's first service game before Ryan managed to win four straight points to level the first set at 1-1. Things remained on serve until 4-3 Lu. Then Yen-Hsun managed to break the young American with some aggressive net court play as well as a few unforced errors from Harrison. At one point, Ryan displayed some negative body language and threw his racquet in disgust after one of his errors. Composure in the important moments is one skill that takes some time to develop, especially for younger players as they have to react more quickly against a tougher level of competition than what they are used to. To his credit, Harrison did not allow his first set loss (losing 3-6) impact the rest of his game as he went on to win the match in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
 
The key to the rest of this match was in Ryan's ability to move his serves around the court with greater pace and variability. Gimelstob noted that "Lu was camping out on the baseline" and Harrison's subsequent ability to move Lu around the court "plants a seed of doubt in Lu's mind; he can't just block the return back," Justin noted. Growing up in Louisiana, Harrison's tennis idol was Pete Sampras and he copied Pete's service motion, complete with the rocking step backwards prior to his ball toss. Unlike Pete, Harrison still occasionally uses the two-handed backhand whereas Pete went with the one-hander early on in his junior days. Harrison next plays Mardy Fish, who dispatched Igor Kunitsyn in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4. Harrison became only the second American teenager to advance to the semifinal round in consecutive weeks at an ATP Tour-level event; the last one was Andy Roddick back in 2002.
 

 
Ryan Harrison (USA) d Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) {blue cap} 36 63 64
 
Scoreboard Ryan Harrison Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Yen-Hsun Lu 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis

 
 
[4] Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram {white caps} d Marcos Baghdatis/Michael Russell {Marcos has a shaved head. Michael has curly hair} 61 76(4)
 
Marcos Baghdatis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Michael Russell 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Michael Russell 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Marcos Baghdatis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Marcos Baghdatis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Marcos Baghdatis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Michael Russell 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Michael Russell 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Marcos Baghdatis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Michael Russell 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Michael Russell 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis

 
Earlier Columns from this Event:
 
July 28, 2011 Farmers Classic: Fish, Muller, Bogomolov, Dimitrov
July 27, 2011 Farmers Classic: Blake, del Potro, Harrison, Russell
July 26, 2011 Farmers Classic: Blake, Gonzalez, Kuntisyn, Berrer
July 25, 2011 Farmers Classic: Lu, Ginepri, Sweeting, Devvarman
 

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