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March 11, 2011

Ryan Harrison


6-7, 7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Just talk about the match. Had a lot of chances in the first, scratched back in the second, got the breaker, got ahead in the third. Must have been a long grind in the sun?
RYAN HARRISON: I mean, it's obviously tough to play out there. I mean, it's hot out there and the conditions are tough to deal with. You know, I live in Florida and was in Texas before that and Louisiana before that, so I'm kind of used to the hot weather.
But, you know, the first set when I was up, I felt like I was up, but I wasn't really playing bad points whenever I was up in his service games to get back. Then I had three set points, and he played three good serves and three good points.
It was kind of one of those things where I kept getting opportunities, and it was like, Okay, he hit a good one; too good. And then it just got to a point where I was just like, All right, I've got to try to stay in a good frame of mind, even though this keeps happening. Because once, you know, in a while he's gonna break down, and then he did.

Q. Must have been nice though, gut out a three-set win against a guy who is pretty hot coming off of Davis Cup?
RYAN HARRISON: Yeah, I mean, obviously to win in three sets is a big confidence boost either way. These are always big mental matches because it's so tight. And especially the first two sets being 7-6, to come out on top and to really get out there ahead in the third, you know, really it could have been a 6-0 third set.
He went into pretty much just I-don't-care mode at the end of the match where he just started slapping forehands. His serve was coming in at like 128 before, and then he started serving at like 110 and taking the first ball and killing it.
So at that point, I was trying to make myself stay focused on my side of the net and making him play as many balls as possible. I was able to serve out the last game.

Q. Have you been in situations like that where you have a guy who was obviously disappointed he lost the second, and maybe not tanks, but borderline just says, Forget it, I don't care anymore?
RYAN HARRISON: Well, not at that level. I mean, you have that at every level whether you're at 12s hard courts for juniors or you're at the pros. People get in this mode where they just say, You know what? It doesn't matter anymore, and they start swinging away.
It's actually dangerous when it happens like that, because usually everybody's hit enough tennis balls where if they're playing with no nerves and carefree, that they can make some good shots and execute.
So at that point, you just have to stay mentally tougher than him. That's what I tried to do in the 5-3 service game. I had a couple match points, and he played two good points at 40-15. Got another one, and he played a good point.
You know, in the entire match I had been kicking it out at his backhand and just waiting for the first ball, waiting for the first volley. I did that three times in the last game, and he put every single one at my ankles when he served and volleyed.
I was like, I can't believe he's coming up with these shots, but just staying mentally tougher than him and make sure that you stay focused on executing every point. I tried to do that, and it paid off.

Q. As one of sort of the great hopes of the game, do you feel a lot of pressure? And does it sometimes bug you, or are you cool with it?
RYAN HARRISON: It never bugs me. I mean, to be mentioned in the same sentence as certain people, it's a privilege to say that I'm being mentioned in those sentences, I guess.
I just feel like I haven't gotten there yet. I have a ways to go, and I'm working at it. But I don't look at it as a negative thing. I mean, I think that any person that's ever made it to the top of the world will tell you that - the top of the game in tennis, I mean - will tell you that they can use pressure to an advantage and use it as something that they can summon to make them play better, especially in big situations.
And so, you know, obviously at the tour level, you know, playing these matches, I haven't had a great deal amount of matches where I have came through under pressure, because I've only played probably 15 matches in my whole career on the ATP level.
But in juniors, and, you know, coming into the futures and challengers, I have had a lot of matches where I've dug deep and played some good pressure-filled moments. So I look to continue that into the highest level.

Q. You're known sort of for your tennis smarts. What would you say your greatest strength is? And to improve one or two things, what are the one or two things?
RYAN HARRISON: Probably my greatest strength is -- well, you mean game-wise or overall? Because I feel like I can compete as well as well as anybody. A lot of guys have a breaking point, I guess, is what you get used to calling it. I never have ever reached a point in a match where I just said -- like I was talking about with him -- where I said, Forget it, I don't care.
That's something that I've literally never had happen to me. I think that's a huge asset for me. I think that I guess I have a variety, you know. I can play with my forehand, play with my slice backhand, and I can come over my backhand a lot. I look to serve and volley as well whenever I can. I guess that's the positive thing about my game.
The negative thing about my gave is the fact that I have do have options, because sometimes I get to a point where I do get confused and I don't know what to do in any given moment, because -- you know, for example, I'm serving out this match, and I'm going, Okay, it's 5-3, 30-40, and I'm serving out the match now. Do I want to serve and volley on this, because I know I can do that, or do I want to serve and stay back, because I know I can do that?
An experienced tour player will have something that they know they want to do. You see Fed, he's gonna hot that serve and look for a forehand. He's gonna crush it, and the ball is just gonna just stay back.
You have guys like Sampras who knew they were going in no matter what. Everyone has the thing they're doing. I'm still trying to figure out what my thing is I need to do on big points is. It's an asset to have options, but something that can be get confusing.

Q. How important is a big event like this, people expecting so much from you coming into this?
RYAN HARRISON: It's huge. I was 0-3 on the tour. In my main draw matches this year, I lost to Soderling, Mannarino, and Serra. Serra was a tough match because I was really sick in Delray. I don't know if you guys saw any of that match, but I was extremely sick down there. I was trying to fight through it and I lost 5 in the third.
Obviously Soderling is No. 4 in the world, so that wasn't a terrible loss. He's a good player. To get out and put myself in a position where I'm in the second round here where I have a chance to play Garcia-Lopez, who is in the top 25 in the world, I'm just looking forward to it. I feel like I can go out there and execute. If I play the way I can, I'll win.

Q. Is having your coaching situation or having it in flux, has that affected you at all?
RYAN HARRISON: Obviously we're looking to get the coaching situation sorted out as soon as possible. You want to have that stable environment around you, and that's exactly why it's taken so long. Because it's tough to just bring someone in and say, Okay, I trust this person.
Just meeting somebody new and trusting that person is just --as well as everybody knows, you can't just do that. You have to build a relationship with somebody and get to a point where you do trust what they're saying. And that's what a coach has to do.
For me, I do have a good support cast around me. As far as my family and close friends, they're always here supporting me. So it hasn't really affected me as much as it could affect anybody else, just because I could have such a good other support cast around me. But obviously we're gonna try to get the coaching situation taken care of as soon as possible.

Q. Outside of your family, what's the best single piece of advice you've gotten from a tennis person you know?
RYAN HARRISON: From a tennis person?

Q. Yeah.
RYAN HARRISON: Andy has been -- Andy Roddick has been incredible when it comes to talking to me about matches and just general advice overall. I think one of the most important things that has stuck with me is Andy has always told me you have 10% of the time when you're feeling great, 10% when you're feeling bad, and the 80% in there that makes your career.
That's the most important thing, because you're not gonna go out there and feel hot every single day, and you're not gonna feel terrible every single day. But if you could find that mid-range that makes you win matches even when you're not necessarily feeling at 100%, I think that's one of the things Andy has been known for his entire career. He doesn't lose a lot of matches that he's not supposed to lose. He beats people he's supposed to win. That's a huge piece of advice he's given me.

Q. You seem to be a strong, independent thinker. Does that make it difficult for your dad to coach you full time? Because obviously he knows a lot about tennis, but you have the whole father/son thing going on.
RYAN HARRISON: It's tough. Anyone who has ever seen a father/son relationship with coaching, father/son is obviously a really tough, sensitive situation. But one of the big things in my dad's situation is the fact that I do have a little brother who is playing competitive professional tennis, as well.
For him to just completely travel with me -- the biggest thing for me is I'm looking for somebody that can be there every day, that can really help me develop my game and help me with the whole process of being in the top in the world.
So for dad, first of all, he doesn't like flying. He hates it more than anything in the world, so that makes it tough to go to Europe and go to places that aren't easily drivable. And then with that, on top of everything, he's also 50 years old. So to say he's gonna travel 25 weeks a year away from my mother - and I have a little sister - he is not going to focus on me and my brother and neglect my sister who is 14 years old.
It's a very tough situation, because my dad is an extremely loyal person. He's always gonna stand by every one of his kids and my mom. And so for him to say, I'm gonna be Ryan's full-time coach and go with him everywhere, he would pretty much be telling my mom he couldn't see her and telling my brother and sister he couldn't spend time with them. That's an extremely big part of the decision.

Q. Do you still reflect on the Open Grandstand loss? Did you learn from it? How have you handled that?
RYAN HARRISON: I mean, obviously you think about it. I mean, anybody who has ever been in a situation that was really important to them and failed will be lying if they told you they don't think about it and are haunted by it.
But it's something that motivates you. On those days whenever -- it's any job you have. With you guys writing, sometimes you just wake up and you don't want to do it. You want to stay in bed. Those moments, those times I think about it when I wake up and I'm going, My back's a little sore, a little stiff, I think about that, and I go, All right, this is my motivation to get something done today and to make myself better today.
That's kind of the way I've used it in the sense I think about that moment and failing that moment and I never want to do it again. I want to do everything I can to try and put myself in the best possible situation.

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