LONDON, (Reuters) – Mardy Fish bowed out to world number one Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals yesterday to end American interest in the Wimbledon singles but in the shape of Ryan Harrison the U.S. has hope for the future.
The 19-year-old is poised to move up by around 20 places from his latest ranking of 122nd and after a five-set tussle with seventh seed David Ferrer in the second round he is brimming with confidence.
“I can play with anyone if I’m playing well,” he told Reuters.
“I feel like my game has the firepower to play with anyone. I’ve had a couple of matches, against Roger (Federer) at Indian Wells I had some chances in the tiebreak,” he said of his 7-6 6-3 loss to the 16-times grand slam champion in March.
“Then against (Robin) Soderling at the French Open I had some chances in the fourth set to push a fifth set, so I’ve had some good matches against guys in the top 10.”
Compatriots above Harrison in the rankings include American number one and ninth-ranked Fish and 2003 U.S. Open champion and his mentor Andy Roddick.
While fully aware Harrison has a long way to go, Roddick said the youngster has what it takes to revitalise the game in the U.S.
“He’s got ability.Â He’s got to harness that energy a little bit.Â He goes a little mental sometimes.Â That’s coming from me,” joked the world number 10.
“I think it’s between the ears at this point. He cares so much about winning and losing, which I don’t think we’ve had enough of, frankly, in the States as far as the up-and-coming players.”
Players at the summit of the modern game have outstanding fitness levels and Harrison took pleasure from proving his athleticism during the gruelling test against Ferrer.
“If I compare myself to the top four it’s going to come off as extremely arrogant. These guys have proven themselves time and time again,” he said.
“I feel like I’m a quick mover, like I’m fast, and I have pretty good confidence in my athleticism. I was moving with Ferrer, and he’s considered one of the best movers, so I feel as though the movement is not going to be a problem for me,” Harrison added.
“Hopefully, not before long I’ll make a real move into the top 20 or top 10 in the world. I’m playing the highest level of tennis which is where I want to be.”
Harrison seems to have the assured demeanour of a top sportsman and he said the Wimbledon run of peer Bernard Tomic would bring out his competitive edge.
“When you have peers who are having success the next step is to get in front of them,” Harrison said of Australian 18-year-old qualifier Tomic’s march to the quarter-finals.
“Tomic has a big year, so obviously that’s going to motivate me to play as well as I can and have that extra motivation on days where you wake up and just don’t feel like going to practice and don’t feel like doing the extra hour in the gym.
“If you’re competitive you want to do as well as you can for yourself but you also want to beat your peers.”
As Federer, Soderling and Ferrer have found out recently, it’s not only Harrison’s peers that need to look over their shoulders as several new faces begin to make their mark.
Harrison cannot wait until the hardcourt swing begins after Wimbledon, culminating in his home grand slam at the U.S. Open.
“I grew up playing on hard so it’s going to be the best major for me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my next opportunity.”
Judging from his Indian Wells performance this year where he powered past then 49th-ranked Jeremy Chardy, world number 25 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Milos Raonic (37) to meet Federer in the last 16, Harrison likes a home crowd.