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August 31, 2016
New York, NY, USA
R. HARRISON/M. Raonic
6-7, 7-5, 7-5, 6-1
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. When did you first get a sense you were in the match? When did you start gaining confidence throughout the match?
RYAN HARRISON: I broke first at 2-All in the first set. I hit a pretty great return, was able to get an early break, and unfortunately got broken right back.
But, you know, was just really focusing on that not being a tipping point in the match where all of a sudden next thing you know he's reeling off four, five games in a row and I'm down a set and a break before I blink.
I just was really going to focus hard on taking care of my service games as much as possible. Then the opportunities to break him are kind of few and far between when you get 'em. Whenever they did come, I was trying to play as composed and aggressively as I could.
Fortunately I was able to get that break back in the third set. It kind of was pivotal.
Q. So many ups and downs in your career. Do you sense there's some movement again? If so, why?
RYAN HARRISON: Yeah, you know, I guess that's a good thing, that I started so young, when I did, because we're not sitting here having the conversation about me playing well right now and I'm 30. I'm still young. I'm 24. I've got a ways to go, especially with guys playing well into their 30s now.
It's mental maturity, a little bit of stabilization with everything around me that is allowing me to play with a sense of calm and also with excitement. My personality is a very fiery one. I like to be really intense when I'm competing. Flirt with that line of getting so intense that it's taking me away from what I was trying to accomplish out there.
It's kind of a hard balance to work through, because I definitely went through phases where I would try to calm down so much that I lost that competitive edge and competitive fire that was my personality out there.
So right now I feel like I'm in a good emotional state where I'm competing really well. I'm not monotone, but I'm also being selective about when I get fired up.
Q. You look across the net and you see a guy same age as you. He came out of nowhere as a pro; shot up high; you've had all those struggles. Do you think about that?
RYAN HARRISON: Well, he is a couple years older. He's a full two years older than me. He's a 1990 birthday; I'm 1992. That's not exactly the same age. We did play together in juniors. Up until 2011, 2012, we were back and forth. I played him a few times in juniors. I got him a couple times; he got me a time or two. I think we were 1-1 at the pro level. I hadn't played him in four years.
I knew going in I was going to be in a position to be in the match. Toronto was a big one for me, because after qualifying there and having a good win the first couple rounds. I played Berdych, and after I got off the court I looked back and felt like I left a lot out there. I still only lost 4 in the third with a guy who is a top player and been in the finals of majors.
I was looking back at that match this summer and saying, I don't need to try to do anything more than I'm capable of doing. I just need to do what I'm capable of and trust that that gives me my opportunities.
Q. What was your approach when you saw how immobilized he was?
RYAN HARRISON: It's really hard initially, because first of all you're a little concerned. He's a good guy and you don't want him to be seriously hurt. I wouldn't say I was happy to hear that it was cramping once I heard from the chair that he was getting cramping treatments, but you're certainly happy that it's not like a tear in the hamstring or something like that where he's in jeopardy of being out for a long time. I saw him fall at Wimbledon one year and had to get hip surgery. That was scary. You don't want to see that for anybody.
Once I realized it was just the cramping, and you see a guy who's kind of laboring out there, it becomes tough initially, especially because when I first started to pick up on it it was still him up a break in the third.
He still has arguably the most live arm on tour. His serve is not going to go away because he still has that upper body sort of strength.
It was a really important game at 4-3 there when he served in the third to break back and give myself a chance. All I was thinking once I got to the third set was I really want to make this feel like a long way back for him. If he's not already feeling physically good, I want it to be a long way back.
I hope he recovers. I hope that his body's all right and I hope he has a great rest of the year. He's a good guy. I've always enjoyed playing him.
Q. Some of the great players generations ago, when they played years ago, they would say, I was seeing a bigger ball. Did you notice anything along those lines?
RYAN HARRISON: No. That's the thing, you know. Everyone hits these two- or three-game patches at some point in time in matches where you're just like, Everything I'm touching right now is going near the line and going off like a rocket.
The cool and exciting thing was that I had a great win today, and there was no point where I felt like I was red lining or playing a level that wasn't consistent. Kind of like going back to the first question I answered, when I broke early in the first set, I got broken back, there was no panic because I didn't feel I was playing above my level to get up the break.
That's when I was just focused on staying the course. Lose a tight first set. Obviously a lot of people are going, you know, long, tight first set. The first couple games of the second are really important. I saved like four or five breakpoints in that first game of the second set. That was a huge hump, because you don't want to be down a set and a break to that guy because he can just take the racquet out of your hand at times.
That was another pivotal moment. I'm sure looking back there were plenty of times where it could have gotten away from me. I'm excited that emotionally and from an execution standpoint I was able to put enough in play and be aggressive enough to take the win.
Q. Why and how do you think you achieved that stabilization you were speaking about earlier?
RYAN HARRISON: Well, you know, it didn't start just here at the Open. I had a rough match in Newport. Was not playing well. Was kind of a mental midget out there in my match. I just was, you know, kind of like in this frame of mind. It was, Listen, you know, something's got to change right now. I've got to make a commitment to do this.
I met with my family. I met with my dad, my fiancĂ©e, people close to me. Talked to them just about starting to develop sort of a series of matches in a row where emotionally I was able to be selective about when I was getting excited.
If I did get irritated, it wasn't at the wrong times and it wasn't taking me out of the match. It was just a decision to be resilient out there in the moment.
Now it's two months later. If you include World TeamTennis, I played probably, I don't know, 30 consecutive matches since then. Now you start to build that good habit where you have good memories, good things to reflect on. It's hopefully going to be a continuous thing.
Q. Second rounds have been a roadblock for you. You've had rough draws along the way. Are you satisfied that you made this breakthrough against the guy who is a No. 5 seed, you didn't get a draw that broke your way?
RYAN HARRISON: Yeah, I mean, the excitement of knowing that you didn't get a win over -- I mean, everyone's a quality player. I don't want to be someone who is sounding like I have an easy draw ever. But you know that a guy who just reached the finals of Wimbledon is obviously going to be a tough opponent.
It's exciting to have a big win like this at a slam. I'm trying to approach it, you know, just like I would any other match right now. I'm trying to stay in the moment, go through my routines tomorrow, I guess the rest of tonight, like I would any other match.
Not really a whole lot of time for reflection in this sport because things change so quickly. You play a bad match on Friday, all of a sudden today the win feels a long ways away.
That's a good thing about it. You get to go out there and it's a new match every time you compete. So I'm looking forward to the challenge on Friday and hopefully going to be able to repeat it.
Q. Given what you went through as a 19-year-old kid, what advice would you give or have you given to guys like Fritz and Tiafoe about what they can expect or what things are going to be like for them?
RYAN HARRISON: Whenever you're dealing with something for the first time, any new kind of emotional situation, a lot of different areas could apply to that. But everything feels like it's a really big high and a really big low.
Whenever you hit a slump or a rough patch it feels like you're never going to find it again. When you have a good match early in your career, you feel like you're on cruise control early to the top.
I think it's pretty important to say in this more kind of controlled range where you understand, like I just talked about, a good win is a good win. But everyone is going to be coming for you in the next match. Doesn't matter who you play. They're looking to do damage also.
When you're down, things change really quickly. It's a short-term sport. You have to have a short-term memory, because if you think back to the matches that you had rough matches or even exciting matches, you're not in the moment of where you are right now.
That's the most important thing to executing in the moment.
Q. Obviously there are a lot of positives to take away from today's match. Looking at how it all unfolded -- you got broken three times, twice he double-faulted, you ended the first set tiebreak with a double-fault -- do you think this may be an area of the game you need to work on?
RYAN HARRISON: The biggest thing I need to work on on my second serve is my second-serve percentage of points won. The double-faults are not something that you want to become a problem. But if you're winning a high percentage of second serve points, a guy like me, I go for my second serve a lot.
I'm not somebody that throws it in at 70 miles an hour in the middle of the box and it starts the point. All the times I double fault there is a lot of times where I get service winners on second serves or a short reply off of a second serve, where someone who is just spinning it in, they're not going to be getting that benefit.
As long as I'm getting a high percentage of second serve points won I'll continue to serve the way I'm serving. With some double-faults coming here and there that's going to be expected, but I want to make sure that I'm always having a high percentage.
Q. Shaping up to be a really good tournament for Americans. Are you conscious of that kind of thing? Can you feed off each other's momentum?
RYAN HARRISON: It's cool. John, Jared, Jack and I and Stevie, we're all within five feet of each other's locker. We've been able to feel the excitement. I saw Johnson this morning when he walked in. You're smiling for him, happy for him.
Isner was the first person I saw when I walked in the locker room. He's excited for me. That's the good thing about all of us guys that are playing for America right now. We all have pretty good relationships.
It's cool. I think the winning does become contagious. It's something where someone achieves something or someone that you're close to has a big win. You think it's a lot more achievable for you.
I certainly have a big belief that we're all able to continue winning. I don't think that we're done right now.
Q. Good things seemed to start happening with World TeamTennis. Do you see World TeamTennis getting bigger than what it is? Did it help you?
RYAN HARRISON: There were some benefits for me from World TeamTennis, for sure. I've had notably some issues in the past with staying focused, not letting distractions get ahold of me when I'm playing.
When you're playing World TeamTennis, you've got no ushers. You have people moving left and right. There is music in between points. You're playing on a colored court. You're paying lets. You can get substitutes in the middle of a match. All sorts of crazy things are happening.
All through the World TeamTennis season I had fun with it. I played at a really high level the whole time.
After the season, I was like 8-1 record. Obviously all the things I yell about when someone is moving in the stands are not that big of a deal if I decide to just focus in and block it out. Whenever you know it's going to happen you just don't think about it. That's going to happen. It's part of it.
There's been times in my career when someone drops a ball, someone does something, and my first reaction is, What did you do? It's not as big a deal as you think it is.
Q. You just talked about having some fun with World TeamTennis. Are you as happy as you've been ever with your life?
RYAN HARRISON: Yeah, this is really fun.
Q. Life is good?
RYAN HARRISON: Life is great. This will be a US Open to remember on so many different occasions. First one, being engaged. First one me and my brother both competed in. How cool is it to have him with me at the Open? We're both playing in the main draw. We weren't the tennis family that was just kind of like immediately at a big academy from the time we were eight, nine years old.
My dad started in a private club in Shreveport, Louisiana. Went to Newcombe's academy. Eventually we got to Bollettieri's academy. Talking about my dad, normal club pro, right? He's teaching six hours, from like 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at night.
I'm getting practices with him at 9:30 at night till 11:00 as an eight-year-old, you know. So you look back at all those moments with my brother and my dad, and I know it's a special US Open, especially with all the injuries to boot.
Q. (Question regarding qualifying.)
RYAN HARRISON: Yeah, you know, the heat, I can thank qualifying all summer for my physical fitness today. I started playing qualifying in D.C. I played qualifying in Toronto. I played obviously a lot of qualifications this year.
Just that match count of being in the heat for as many matches as I was, I certainly wasn't feeling as tired as I would have been otherwise.
The good news about qualifying at a slam, especially the Open with the way the schedule is, you finish on Friday. You have Saturday and Sunday to recover. Whereas in other tournaments, if you qualify on Saturday, Sunday, you play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
All of a sudden your third-round match is your fifth match in a row. That can be physically taxing by the end of a normal tournament, but at a slam you have the luxury of having two days to get your feet back up under you.
After that you are just excited that you're a little bit more used to the conditions than someone who hasn't played that. It's a first match for the guy that played the first round and it's my fourth. If your body is not hurting, that's going to be an advantage.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports