SONY ERICSSON OPEN 2012
Harrison To Face Federer In Second Round
by Peter Holehan|
American Ryan Harrison fought back with a gritty performance after dropping the opening set to topple No. 70 Potito Starace 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4 in a first round match of the men’s singles main draw on stadium court Thursday. He will play Roger Federer in the next round.
The 19-year-old Harrison of Austin, Texas, made the most of his wild card entry and continued to show his tangible improvement in recent matches after an initial slow start to 2012.
Harrison has shaken off a 2-3 start to the year to go 8-3 since with his best finish coming in February at San Jose where he reached the semifinals.
Ranked No. 73, Harrison made the critical plays when needed by breaking the Italian twice including the first game in the third set to set the tone. It was the first win in Miami for Harrison who had dropped his two previous first round matches.
A major test looms ahead with No. 3 Roger Federer awaiting him in the second round on Saturday.
“I’ve had my fair share of chances [against top 10 ranked players],” Harrison said. “I’m hoping this is the year where I’m not just competitive. I’m going out to win these matches. He [Federer] is obviously an outstanding player. That’s an understatement. He’s done incredible stuff with the game. And, in my opinion, he’s the greatest player to play this game.”
Harrison riffled his 130 mph serve and held a distinct advantage in that department by totaling 10 aces. His backhand and forehand did not let him down either as he registered 43 winners.
Maturity was another focal point of his success.
Admittedly, Harrison mentioned that his temper has flared to the point where it may have cost him in previous matches. Cursing, smashed racquets and emotions that spiraled out of control were the usual telltale signs that he had taken himself mentally out of the match.
Harrison said was so intent on making a change that he made it his New Year’s resolution to conduct himself in a more professional manner and keep in emotions in check.
The opportunity for a letdown presented itself during his match with Starace when Harrison had five break point chances. But, Harrison did not allow it to happen.
“I think that’s a match where last year after dealing with rough conditions and having a lot of break point opportunities and just things that weren’t really going my way in the first set, I might have self-destructed,” said Harrison, who should inch closer to his career-high singles ranking of No. 65 that occurred in February of 2011. “Could have actually lost that match based on frustration.”
“I told myself at the beginning of the second set, you know, that this is what I’ve been working on,” he said. “This is what I’m going to do best. I had to make sure that I keep my composure and kept playing my game. I actually did a better job of stepping up into the court and taking control of points, and that allowed me to turn the match around."
In other early action on the top half of the men’s main draw first round, Russian Igor Kunitsyn defeated American wild card Jesse Levine 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3) in a first-time ATP meeting.
Levine had defeated Kunitsyn once before, but it occurred in a 2008 qualifier in Memphis. Kunitsyn, who picked up just his third victory of the year, advances to play No. 23 Croatian Marin Cilic. Cilic received a first round bye.
Kunitsyn won 63 percent on first serves and took advantage of eight double faults by Levine.
In other first-time meetings, Spaniard Albert Ramos topped Italian qualifier Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-1 while German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe got by Italian Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 7-5.
The left-handed Ramos (9-8 this year) reached his career-high ranking peak back on March 5 when he was ranked No. 57. The 24-year-old draws fellow countryman and No. 15 Feliciano Lopez in the second round.
Stebe saved break point on 7 of 11 occasions and broke Cipolla six times.
Croatian Ivo Karlovic redeemed himself after losing to Pole Lukasz Kubot at Indian Wells earlier this month by earning a 6-3, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (2) victory. It’s the first time in four attempts that Karlovic has beaten Kubot.
Relying on his powerful serve, Karlovic reared back for 27 aces and made good on 81 percent of his first serves.
Karlovic, the tallest player to rank in the top 100 in history of the ATP rankings (6-foot-10), will next see No. 11 Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.
Sam Querrey won the final match of the evening, topping Matt Ebden 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 in one hour and 54 minutes. Querrey won the last eight points of the encounter to set a second-round clash with recent Delray Beach titlist and No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson.
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