Ryan Harrison Q&A: 'I play to win'
Ryan Harrison takes the court expecting to win, regardless of the opponent
Harrison is more confident in his game and hopes to eventually play the Olympics
At just 19 years old, Ryan Harrison has a bright future on the ATP Tour. The fiery American has been steadily improving, including pushing Andy Murray to four sets at the Australian Open this year. SI.com caught up with Harrison for a quick Q&A just before he got the call to join the U.S. Davis Cup team.
SI.com: You're from Louisiana, you're a Saints fan. How do you feel about the penalties handed down for the bounties?
Ryan Harrison: That's a tough matter to comment on. It's obviously a touchy situation. As a fan you don't want to see your head coach gone so long. The fines, the draft picks, the general manager -- it hasn't been a fun two weeks to be a Saints fan. You know, with the whole Manning thing -- where's he gonna go? -- you almost forget about this. Then the commissioner decided what he was going to do. They come out with the penalties and it was a heartbreaker. Rough few weeks.
SI.com: Few weeks? Rough 2012.
Harrison: Yeah, I was in Australia watching the [49ers] game but had to practice. I watched the Saints drive to go up. I was walking out to practice, watching on my phone and saw Alex Smith, the 49ers final drive. That was more devastating than anything I've ever watched.
SI.com: On a happier note I hope, how are you feeling about your tennis progress?
Harrison: I'm starting to see a clear path of what I want to accomplish to get to the top. Looking at this year, I haven't lost any matches where I haven't at least given myself a chance. I've put myself in a position to win every match. Obviously I've lost some. But I do see myself playing more of my style of tennis.
SI.com: A lot of times players say, 'When I was younger, it took some time before I truly believed I belonged out there.' You have any doubts that anyone outside the top four is out of your reach?
Harrison: Obviously the top four are on a different level, but I wouldn't say that's outside my range either. I play Federer and I'm going out there with every expectation I'm going to win. That's just the way I approach everything. I would have given you that same answer when I was 13. I play to win.
SI.com: You're a big sports fan. Is that just an interest, or does that help you in preparation or mentality?
Harrison: Yeah, like being a Saints fan, I've never met Drew Brees but seeing him, how he conducts himself, that's something I've tried to take away, seeing how he leads a team. Even though tennis obviously isn't a team sport.
SI.com: What are some stats you think are important?
Harrison: For me, it's first serve percentage is big. And my conversions of break points. That's what I pay most attention to. Usually on break opportunities, if I'm converting those, I'm usually on top.
SI.com: You play those different from other points?
Harrison: I don't try to but last year it was a big mistake. I was too defensive on those points. But it's something I'm getting better at.
SI.com: How's the emotional stamina? The travel, the practice, the grind?
Harrison: It's tough but I have such a good team around me. My coach is Grant Doyle. I have a trainer who lives in Austin and does my physical fitness work. My agent. My physio, Matthew, travels with me. My Dad travels a little. Especially in the States. I have some friends sometimes. My brother -- the more mature he's getting, the more we can have conversations from a mutual standpoint.
SI.com: So he's a player?
Harrison: Yeah he's gonna be a really good player.
SI.com: Do you have your eyes on the Olympics?
Harrison: I'd love to play the Olympics. Let's keep winning matches and we got a chance.