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July 30, 2011

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2011 Farmers Classic - Los Angeles, CA, USA
July 30, 2011
Editorial By Vince Barr. Photography by Harvey Rubin.


 

Vince Barr Photo
Vince Barr

Farmer's Classic Semifinals: Harrison vs. Fish, "Round Two"
 
In Saturday's first semifinal, Ryan Harrison took up the challenge of facing off against Mardy Fish for the second consecutive week (they played in the Atlanta semifinals one week ago with Mardy taking that match, 6-2, 6-4). As anyone who has visited these two cities (Atlanta and Los Angeles) in the summer can attest, the playing conditions are drastically different. Atlanta has legendary heat and humidity but also sits about 1,050 feet above sea level whereas Los Angeles is drier, has less humidity and sits about 338 feet above sea level depending on where you are within LA itself. Factor in differences in court speed, the balls and whatever Harrison learned from his previous encounter with Fish and the stage is virtually set for an upset. Before the match, Justin Gimelstob interviewed Ryan and asked him specifically what he learned from his match with Mardy the week before. Credit Harrison for not being too specific in his response but he opined that "I need to be a little more aggressive, not let him dictate (play) from the baseline as much and take that control away from him would certainly help me for this match," Ryan said. Justin's follow-up question was why Harrison was playing well now as opposed to his form earlier in the year. "I think a lot of it is mental; I am playing a lot more comfortably, more under control, than I had been (playing previously). I am gaining more experience and learning how to handle different situations (on the court)," Harrison said.
 
Ryan started out serving the match and might have been a little too anxious as he was immediately broken to start the match. Mardy then followed that break with a hold of his own serve to go up, 2-0 in the first. Ryan proceeded to go down 15-40 in his next service game following a couple of forehand errors, one of which landed well beyond the baseline. He was then broken on the next point to fall behind 0-3. Shortly thereafter, he got bagled in the first set, 0-6. Mardy posted a 73% first serve percentage which is mediocre for him but compared favorably with that of Harrison, who only managed to record a 60% rating in that particular category. As you might expect when someone gets broken three times in one set, Harrison's first serve points won was an abysmal 22% (compared to 91% for Mardy) and he only hit one winner (vs. 9 for Fish) while hitting 6 unforced errors (as compared with two for Fish). Obviously, this was not Ryan's best set of tennis in his brief professional tenure.
 
After getting blown out in a set like this, you basically have two options: give up and get off the court as quickly as you can or dismiss the preliminary result as the product of nerves, too many errors or unusually good performance by your opponent. You might also want to tell yourself that nothing has really changed; you still need to win two out of three sets and losing the first simply means that you're going to be on court longer than what you might have originally planned. It is a given that in order to play professional tennis at the highest level, you have to be mentally strong and able to rally and recover from some disastrous sets of tennis which, to his credit, Harrison did on Saturday. Tennis Channel put on a somewhat surprising graphic that noted that Harrison has five "comeback" wins this year alone after losing the first set, once in Indian Wells, twice last week in Atlanta and twice in LA (first round and in the quarters). That was the good news heading into the second set; the bad news was that none of those opponents were anywhere near the Top 10 as Fish was when they played in the semifinals.
 
Harrison also started off serving in the second set, but this time he managed to hold onto his serve, which made all the difference in the world. Instead of playing from behind, he put some pressure on Fish to keep up with him. Against a lesser-ranked opponent, this might have constituted a critical mental advantage. Against a top-10 player, it was probably irrelevant. Harrison made a strategic mistake at 2-1 (on serve) with Mardy serving at deuce; Ryan left a ball short which Mardy rushed into the net and drilled it for a cross court winner to give him the advantage, then followed that one up with another slam winner to even the set at 2-all. Harrison's first break point off Fish's serve came at 30-all on a Fish double fault and also functioned as a set point. Mardy subsequently hit a volley wide to gift wrap the second set to his younger opponent and the match was going the distance.
 
Now, if you are Mardy Fish, you are probably telling yourself at this point that you gave the second set away to your opponent; it wasn't like he took it from you. You would also remember that Harrison had not yet managed to break through to a Tour-level final and he was probably going to be nervous as the match entered the pivotal third set. You would also probably avoid noting the fact that your opponent was also ten years younger than you (and therefore, had fresher legs) and also that he basically had nothing to lose while you had everything to lose if you did not emerge with the win. As with the previous sets played in this match, Ryan started out serving and held to take the early advantage. After Mardy held, he took advantage of some errors by his younger opponent to claim the first break to go up 2-1. Harrison is what you might consider to be a volatile personality; at least, that is his on-court demeanor. The final set went to a tiebreaker with Mardy playing better in that extra frame, 7-6 (3). Still, Harrison is a player to watch in the near future. He started out the year ranked # 173 and will certainly rise from this week's spot of # 94. Fish moves on to the final where he will play Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who defeated Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals and Alex Bogomolov, Jr., in the semifinals, 6-2, 7-6 (4). The championship match on Sunday will be the first meeting between Fish and Gulbis.
 

 
[1] Mardy Fish (USA) {white cap} d Ryan Harrison (USA) 60 46 76(3)
 
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ball Girl 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ryan Harrison 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Mardy Fish 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis

 
 
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) {white shorts} d Alex Bogomolov Jr (USA) 62 76(4)
 
Scoreboard Ernests Gulbis Alex Bogomolov Jr 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Alex Bogomolov Jr 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ernests Gulbis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Alex Bogomolov Jr 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ernests Gulbis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Alex Bogomolov Jr 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ernests Gulbis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Alex Bogomolov Jr 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ernests Gulbis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Alex Bogomolov Jr 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ernests Gulbis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Alex Bogomolov Jr 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis
Ernests Gulbis 2011 Farmers Classic Los Angeles Tennis

 
Earlier Columns from this Event:
 
July 29, 2011 Farmers Classic: Harrison Heating Up The Farmer's Classic
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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