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Players Ready For First Slam Of 2017 At The Australian Open

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 2:50pm
Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov speak with ATP World Tour Uncovered Presented By Peugeot about the challenges the players face in Melbourne as well as the best part of the first Grand Slam of the year.

Karlovic Fires Into Australian Open Record Books With Zeballos Win

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 1:41pm

Ivo Karlovic has been at it again! This time engraving his name in the Australian Open record books.

The 6’11” Croatian fought back from an 0-2 sets deficit to beat Horacio Zeballos 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in five hours and 14 minutes on Tuesday night for a place in the second round. The match fell 38 minutes short of Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final, which lasted five hours and 53 minutes.

The Karlovic-Zeballos match lasted 84 games breaking the Australian Open record since the introduction of the tie-break in 1972, surpassing Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui's 2003 classic of 83 games – including a 21-19 fifth set.

“This match is what I will, after my career, remember,” said Karlovic. “If it was easy match or I lost easily, I wouldn't remember it. But this one I will definitely remember forever.

The 37-year-old Karlovic also fired down 75 aces, another Australian Open record – bettering Joachim Johansson’s 51 aces in 2005. It was just three aces shy of equalling Karlovic’s record 78 aces versus fellow veteran Radek Stepanek in the 2009 Davis Cup semi-finals.

One chance for each player went begging in the deciding set that lasted two hours and 41 minutes, before No. 20 seed Karlovic broke Zeballos’ serve for just the fourth time to end the encounter, which had begun mid-afternoon in 37°C (98.6F) heat. It was the longest fifth set in Australian Open history.

“My arm is good, but my knee, my back a little bit, is not so good,” said Karlovic. “I was just trying to hang in there, just point by point… [As the fifth set wore on], actually I was thinking about that other match: [John] Isner versus [Nicolas] Mahut (at 2010 Wimbledon, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set). I was hoping, a little bit, it could go that long so I could also have that record.”

Karlovic goes on to face Australian Andrew Whittington, who beat Adam Pavlasek 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 earlier in the day.

Karlovic holds the US Open aces match record, which he set in a grueling five-set win over Yen-Hsun Lu in August 2016. Karlovic fired 61 aces – including 22 in the second set - to eclipse the previous US Open record of 49 set by Richard Krajicek in a losing effort to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1999. Read Report

The Croatian has now struck 11,689 aces in tour-level matches over the course of his 17-year professional career. Isner struck 1,159 aces to Karlovic's 1,131 aces in 2016, but the Croatian led the ATP World Tour circuit in 2015 with 1,447 aces (Isner - 1,260).

See Infosys ATP Scores & Stats – Career Aces

The ATP World Tour started to compile career ace records in 1991. They include aces served in main draw ATP World Tour and Grand Slam matches, and at the Olympic Games from 2008 onwards. Totals do not include aces served in Davis Cup.

Ivo Karlovic's Ace Count By Year (Since 2001):

Year Aces Matches Aces Per Match  2017  117  4  29  2016  1131  54  21  2015  1447  63  23  2014  1185  64  19  2013  485  28  17  2012  506  30  17  2011  632  36  18  2010  472  25  19  2009  890  43  21  2008  961  54  18  2007  1318  64  21  2006  647  36  18  2005   730  39  19  2004  842  43  20  2003  281  16  18  2002  30  3  10  2001  16  1  16

 

Karlovic Fires Into Australian Open Record Books With Zeballos Win

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 1:41pm

Ivo Karlovic has been at it again! This time engraving his name in the Australian Open record books.

The 6’11” Croatian fought back from an 0-2 sets deficit to beat Horacio Zeballos 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in five hours and 14 minutes on Tuesday night for a place in the second round. The match fell 38 minutes short of Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final, which lasted five hours and 53 minutes.

The Karlovic-Zeballos match lasted 84 games breaking the Australian Open record since the introduction of the tie-break in 1972, surpassing Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui's 2003 classic of 83 games – including a 21-19 fifth set.

“This match is what I will, after my career, remember,” said Karlovic. “If it was easy match or I lost easily, I wouldn't remember it. But this one I will definitely remember forever.

The 37-year-old Karlovic also fired down 75 aces, another Australian Open record – bettering Joachim Johansson’s 51 aces in 2005. It was just three aces shy of equalling Karlovic’s record 78 aces versus fellow veteran Radek Stepanek in the 2009 Davis Cup semi-finals.

One chance for each player went begging in the deciding set that lasted two hours and 41 minutes, before No. 20 seed Karlovic broke Zeballos’ serve for just the fourth time to end the encounter, which had begun mid-afternoon in 37°C (98.6F) heat. It was the longest fifth set in Australian Open history.

“My arm is good, but my knee, my back a little bit, is not so good,” said Karlovic. “I was just trying to hang in there, just point by point… [As the fifth set wore on], actually I was thinking about that other match: [John] Isner versus [Nicolas] Mahut (at 2010 Wimbledon, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set). I was hoping, a little bit, it could go that long so I could also have that record.”

Karlovic goes on to face Australian Andrew Whittington, who beat Adam Pavlasek 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 earlier in the day.

Karlovic holds the US Open aces match record, which he set in a grueling five-set win over Yen-Hsun Lu in August 2016. Karlovic fired 61 aces – including 22 in the second set - to eclipse the previous US Open record of 49 set by Richard Krajicek in a losing effort to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1999. Read Report

The Croatian has now struck 11,689 aces in tour-level matches over the course of his 17-year professional career. Isner struck 1,159 aces to Karlovic's 1,131 aces in 2016, but the Croatian led the ATP World Tour circuit in 2015 with 1,447 aces (Isner - 1,260).

See Infosys ATP Scores & Stats – Career Aces

The ATP World Tour started to compile career ace records in 1991. They include aces served in main draw ATP World Tour and Grand Slam matches, and at the Olympic Games from 2008 onwards. Totals do not include aces served in Davis Cup.

Ivo Karlovic's Ace Count By Year (Since 2001):

Year Aces Matches Aces Per Match  2017  117  4  29  2016  1131  54  21  2015  1447  63  23  2014  1185  64  19  2013  485  28  17  2012  506  30  17  2011  632  36  18  2010  472  25  19  2009  890  43  21  2008  961  54  18  2007  1318  64  21  2006  647  36  18  2005   730  39  19  2004  842  43  20  2003  281  16  18  2002  30  3  10  2001  16  1  16

 

Emirates ATP Rankings Update 16 January 2017

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 1:40pm
See how the Emirates ATP Rankings look after week two of the 2017 ATP World Tour season, on 9 January 2017, following tournaments in Auckland and Sydney.

Emirates ATP Rankings Update 16 January 2017

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 1:40pm
See how the Emirates ATP Rankings look after week two of the 2017 ATP World Tour season, on 9 January 2017, following tournaments in Auckland and Sydney.

Kontinen Peers Take In St. Kilda

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 12:50pm
Finn Henri Kontinen joins his Aussie doubles partner John Peers for a stroll at St. Kilda ahead of their Australian Open campaign.

Kontinen Peers Take In St. Kilda

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 12:50pm
Finn Henri Kontinen joins his Aussie doubles partner John Peers for a stroll at St. Kilda ahead of their Australian Open campaign.

Muller Relishing The Moment Australian Open 2017

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 12:12pm
Gilles Muller is relishing the moment ahead of his second-round clash with Milos Raonic at the Australian Open, having won his first ATP World Tour title last week in Sydney at the age of 33.

Muller Relishing The Moment Australian Open 2017

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 12:12pm
Gilles Muller is relishing the moment ahead of his second-round clash with Milos Raonic at the Australian Open, having won his first ATP World Tour title last week in Sydney at the age of 33.

Djokovic Opens Bid For Seventh Crown In Melbourne

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 12:09pm

Novak Djokovic began his quest for a record seventh Australian Open crown on Tuesday night when he defeated 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 in two hours and 23 minutes. The pair met 11 days ago in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals, with Djokovic saving five match points in the second set tie-break.

“I started really well,” said Djokovic. “[I played a] great first set and a great third set, as well. The second set was a long set with a lot of unforced errors from both sides. It was a gamble, really. He was two or three times a break up. I had my chances at 4-All, 5-All, many break points.

"But at the end of the day, I knew that winning second set would be crucial, because I definitely didn't want to give him wings. I didn't want to have him start swinging at the ball, as he knows. I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form and how well he played in Doha.”

World No. 2 Djokovic took a 5-0 lead at the start of the pair’s 14th meeting and despite being broken twice in the second set, the Serbian capitalised on winning the tie-break to open a 3-0 lead in the third set. He is now 58-6 at Melbourne Park and will next face Denis Istomin in the second round. Istomin beat Ivan Dodig 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 15 seed, needed just over two hours to defeat wild card and World No. 231 Christopher O’Connell 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3. The Bulgarian’s best result at the major came in 2014 when he advanced to the quarter-finals (l. to Nadal).

Djokovic Opens Bid For Seventh Crown In Melbourne

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 12:09pm

Novak Djokovic began his quest for a record seventh Australian Open crown on Tuesday night when he defeated 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 in two hours and 23 minutes. The pair met 11 days ago in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals, with Djokovic saving five match points in the second set tie-break.

“I started really well,” said Djokovic. “[I played a] great first set and a great third set, as well. The second set was a long set with a lot of unforced errors from both sides. It was a gamble, really. He was two or three times a break up. I had my chances at 4-All, 5-All, many break points.

"But at the end of the day, I knew that winning second set would be crucial, because I definitely didn't want to give him wings. I didn't want to have him start swinging at the ball, as he knows. I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form and how well he played in Doha.”

World No. 2 Djokovic took a 5-0 lead at the start of the pair’s 14th meeting and despite being broken twice in the second set, the Serbian capitalised on winning the tie-break to open a 3-0 lead in the third set. He is now 58-6 at Melbourne Park and will next face Denis Istomin in the second round. Istomin beat Ivan Dodig 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 15 seed, needed just over two hours to defeat wild card and World No. 231 Christopher O’Connell 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3. The Bulgarian’s best result at the major came in 2014 when he advanced to the quarter-finals (l. to Nadal).

Rublev Ready For The Fight Against Murray

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 10:40am

If Andrey Rublev was looking for a little extra adrenaline ahead of his Australian Open second-round clash with Andy Murray, the Russian #NextGenATP star found some on Tuesday in Melbourne with some sparring at Fight Club boxing gym.

The 19-year-old Rublev defeated Yen-Hsun Lu on Monday at Melbourne Park to record his first Grand Slam main draw victory. Ahead of his clash with World No. 1 Murray, the right-hander, whose father is a former boxer, engaged in a sparring session with the trainer at Fight Club.

Looking ahead to the clash with Murray, which is scheduled for the Rod Laver Arena evening session on Wednesday, Rublev said, "I’m so excited, I have nothing to lose. He’s the best tennis player at the moment. So I will just try to take a great experience from this, from tomorrow's match and we’ll see."

Rublev Ready For The Fight Against Murray

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 10:40am

If Andrey Rublev was looking for a little extra adrenaline ahead of his Australian Open second-round clash with Andy Murray, the Russian #NextGenATP star found some on Tuesday in Melbourne with some sparring at Fight Club boxing gym.

The 19-year-old Rublev defeated Yen-Hsun Lu on Monday at Melbourne Park to record his first Grand Slam main draw victory. Ahead of his clash with World No. 1 Murray, the right-hander, whose father is a former boxer, engaged in a sparring session with the trainer at Fight Club.

Looking ahead to the clash with Murray, which is scheduled for the Rod Laver Arena evening session on Wednesday, Rublev said, "I’m so excited, I have nothing to lose. He’s the best tennis player at the moment. So I will just try to take a great experience from this, from tomorrow's match and we’ll see."

 

The Hidden Danger Of 15-All

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 10:18am

Fifteen-all is a leaking ship. The boat is still afloat, still steaming along in the right direction, but it is definitely taking on a little water that the server probably does not know about.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings shows a modest decline in the win percentage for the server from the start of the game at love-all to two points later at 15/15.

Top 10 Average Win Percentage

  •  0/0 = 85%
  •  15/15 = 82%

The Top 10 average a three percentage-point drop from 0/0 to 15/15, as the finish line for the game moves from four points away, to just three points away.

Top 10 Hold Percentage At 0/0 And 15/15 During The 2016 Season

No. Player 0/0 15/15 DifferenceAndy Murray 85% 84% -1 2  Novak Djokovic 86% 83% -3 3  Milos Raonic 91% 88% -3 4 Stan Wawrinka 86% 82% -4 5  Kei Nishikori 83% 79% -4 6  Gael Monfils 83% 80% -3 7  Marin Cilic 87% 84% -3 8 Dominic Thiem 83% 79% -4 9  Rafael Nadal 81% 79% -2 10  Tomas Berdych 85% 86% +1  - AVERAGE 85% 82% -3

The three players in the Top 10 who had the biggest winning percentage drop between 0/0 and 15/15 were Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem, all of whom saw their winning percentage fall four percentage points. There were four players right at the average decline of three percentage points, including Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Marin Cilic.

Rafael Nadal's winning percentage dropped only two percentage points, while World No. 1 Andy Murray dropped only one percentage point. The outlier in the Top 10 was Tomas Berdych, who actually rose one percentage point, from 85 per cent to 86 per cent. In 2015, Berdych dropped like the rest of the Top 10, but it was only one percentage point, from 85 per cent to 84 per cent.

The key dynamic here is the closer proximity to the finish line. It’s still the same server, and the score is still even, but the end of the game has moved 25 per cent closer (from four points to three points), and that slightly favours the returner.

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The Hidden Danger Of 15-All

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 10:18am

Fifteen-all is a leaking ship. The boat is still afloat, still steaming along in the right direction, but it is definitely taking on a little water that the server probably does not know about.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings shows a modest decline in the win percentage for the server from the start of the game at love-all to two points later at 15/15.

Top 10 Average Win Percentage

  •  0/0 = 85%
  •  15/15 = 82%

The Top 10 average a three percentage-point drop from 0/0 to 15/15, as the finish line for the game moves from four points away, to just three points away.

Top 10 Hold Percentage At 0/0 And 15/15 During The 2016 Season

No. Player 0/0 15/15 DifferenceAndy Murray 85% 84% -1 2  Novak Djokovic 86% 83% -3 3  Milos Raonic 91% 88% -3 4 Stan Wawrinka 86% 82% -4 5  Kei Nishikori 83% 79% -4 6  Gael Monfils 83% 80% -3 7  Marin Cilic 87% 84% -3 8 Dominic Thiem 83% 79% -4 9  Rafael Nadal 81% 79% -2 10  Tomas Berdych 85% 86% +1  - AVERAGE 85% 82% -3

The three players in the Top 10 who had the biggest winning percentage drop between 0/0 and 15/15 were Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem, all of whom saw their winning percentage fall four percentage points. There were four players right at the average decline of three percentage points, including Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Marin Cilic.

Rafael Nadal's winning percentage dropped only two percentage points, while World No. 1 Andy Murray dropped only one percentage point. The outlier in the Top 10 was Tomas Berdych, who actually rose one percentage point, from 85 per cent to 86 per cent. In 2015, Berdych dropped like the rest of the Top 10, but it was only one percentage point, from 85 per cent to 84 per cent.

The key dynamic here is the closer proximity to the finish line. It’s still the same server, and the score is still even, but the end of the game has moved 25 per cent closer (from four points to three points), and that slightly favours the returner.

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Nadal Blasts Past Mayer In Melbourne

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 6:27am

Rafael Nadal did his best to erase the memory of his 2016 first-round loss in Melbourne on Tuesday, dominating Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in just over two hours in Rod Laver Arena. The Spaniard landed 70 per cent of his first serves and ripped 39 winners against the 33-year-old Mayer, who was playing at Melbourne Park for the first time in three years.

“I think I played solid match,” said Nadal. “It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love of the people. That is something that is very special for me. I am happy the way I am playing. I had [some] good weeks of practise… I always expect difficult matches. Today was not an easy match.”

Nadal fell to countryman Fernando Verdasco a year ago, the victim of an all-out attack from his opponent, who hit 90 winners in the win. But Tuesday's match was never in question for the 30-year-old Mallorca native. Nadal earned a break in each set, including at 4-4 in the third set, and converted his first match point with a forehand winner.

Nadal will next face Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who advanced to the second round when Russian Mikhail Youzhny retired down 6-3, 3-0. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 8-1.

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Sixth seed Gael Monfils, competing at the 40th Grand Slam championship of his career, returned to competitive tennis with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jiri Vesely for a place in the second round. It was his first tour-level win since October 2016 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Roberto Bautista Agut, the No. 13 seed and the winner of the Aircel Chennai Open, cruised past Guido Pella 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 in 83 minutes for a second-round clash against Yoshihito Nishioka.

Nadal Blasts Past Mayer In Melbourne

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 6:27am

Rafael Nadal did his best to erase the memory of his 2016 first-round loss in Melbourne on Tuesday, dominating Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in just over two hours in Rod Laver Arena. The Spaniard landed 70 per cent of his first serves and ripped 39 winners against the 33-year-old Mayer, who was playing at Melbourne Park for the first time in three years.

“I think I played solid match,” said Nadal. “It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love of the people. That is something that is very special for me. I am happy the way I am playing. I had [some] good weeks of practise… I always expect difficult matches. Today was not an easy match.”

Nadal fell to countryman Fernando Verdasco a year ago, the victim of an all-out attack from his opponent, who hit 90 winners in the win. But Tuesday's match was never in question for the 30-year-old Mallorca native. Nadal earned a break in each set, including at 4-4 in the third set, and converted his first match point with a forehand winner.

Nadal will next face Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who advanced to the second round when Russian Mikhail Youzhny retired down 6-3, 3-0. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 8-1.

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Sixth seed Gael Monfils, competing at the 40th Grand Slam championship of his career, returned to competitive tennis with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jiri Vesely for a place in the second round. It was his first tour-level win since October 2016 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Roberto Bautista Agut, the No. 13 seed and the winner of the Aircel Chennai Open, cruised past Guido Pella 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 in 83 minutes for a second-round clash against Yoshihito Nishioka.

Harrison: I Can See Daylight Again

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 6:21am

He may be set to play Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open second round on Wednesday, but seven months ago, Ryan Harrison almost decided to call it a day on the ATP World Tour.

The American hit a self-proclaimed rock bottom after losing in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying to countryman Bjorn Fratangelo and gave himself an ultimatum:

Commit to turning it around. Or stop playing.

Five years ago, a teenage Harrison had broken into the Top 50 and was being talked about as the United States’ next Grand Slam champion. But it didn’t quite happen for the Texas native. Not helped by injuries, his ranking fell back outside the Top 100 and the occasional good moments were weighed down by increasing low spells.

Still only 24 years of age, it feels like Harrison has already endured a career full of highs and lows.

“It was tough at times,” said Harrison after his first-round win over Nicolas Mahut at Melbourne Park. “You have some injuries that affect your confidence. You get out there and you're not playing that well and that leads to more bad results. Then you start searching for answers and you start to lose that security in your own ability. One bad thing leads to another and you find that you don’t recognise yourself on the court.

“For me it was a chain of what came first. The chicken or the egg? The bad result or the bad attitude? What was going on? I finally reached a point of rock bottom. You either have to commit to turning it around or you don't even play anymore. At that point I wasn't recognising myself out there.

“So I made that commitment with the people around me, who still had belief in me. I think it was important to notice who was still believing in me in the worst moment and trust those people.

 “[After Wimbledon] I felt like I'd had the occasional good result here and there, but the consistency hadn't been there and I was just looking forward to getting home and being around my family. I didn't really have a date for when I wanted to hit a tennis ball again after that. It took me a little bit of time to get back out there. But eventually I did and I felt like once I did, I finally let go of some of that negative emotion. I just got out there and was focusing on enjoying playing again.”

With the enjoyment came success. Harrison qualified for nine tour-level events in 2016, including in Washington and Toronto, where he scored two third-round appearances. Closing on a return to the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Harrison put himself firmly back on the radar at the US Open. As a qualifier he shocked World No. 6 Milos Raonic en route to the third round. It was an extra special week for the Harrison family, with Ryan’s younger brother, Christian, also qualifying.

“I don't think my ability ever left,” said Ryan Harrison. “People talk about me having the potential to win majors and having that sort of ability. That doesn't just go away. You still have ability in you, it's just a matter of putting yourself in the right positions to let that come out and excel.

“So for me, once the mind was better, the good results could follow. With the way tennis is set up, if you're not ranked high enough to be seeded, you have to fight some tough opponents early on in tournaments. I was able to win one or two of those matches and get a little bit of an opening in some draws and capitalise on it. That allowed me to continue to build confidence and here we are.

“I'm just happy, honestly,” continued Harrison, who is focused on purely enjoying the moment and not setting rankings goals. “Things are good. I'm getting married, playing a high level. I can see the daylight again of where I want to be with my tennis career and moving in the right direction. Happiness and confidence leads to better things happening and I think that that's where I'm at. A good level is going to put me in a good position to win and if I win, my ranking will find itself where it does.”

Harrison: I Can See Daylight Again

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 6:21am

He may be set to play Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open second round on Wednesday, but seven months ago, Ryan Harrison almost decided to call it a day on the ATP World Tour.

The American hit a self-proclaimed rock bottom after losing in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying to countryman Bjorn Fratangelo and gave himself an ultimatum:

Commit to turning it around. Or stop playing.

Five years ago, a teenage Harrison had broken into the Top 50 and was being talked about as the United States’ next Grand Slam champion. But it didn’t quite happen for the Texas native. Not helped by injuries, his ranking fell back outside the Top 100 and the occasional good moments were weighed down by increasing low spells.

Still only 24 years of age, it feels like Harrison has already endured a career full of highs and lows.

“It was tough at times,” said Harrison after his first-round win over Nicolas Mahut at Melbourne Park. “You have some injuries that affect your confidence. You get out there and you're not playing that well and that leads to more bad results. Then you start searching for answers and you start to lose that security in your own ability. One bad thing leads to another and you find that you don’t recognise yourself on the court.

“For me it was a chain of what came first. The chicken or the egg? The bad result or the bad attitude? What was going on? I finally reached a point of rock bottom. You either have to commit to turning it around or you don't even play anymore. At that point I wasn't recognising myself out there.

“So I made that commitment with the people around me, who still had belief in me. I think it was important to notice who was still believing in me in the worst moment and trust those people.

 “[After Wimbledon] I felt like I'd had the occasional good result here and there, but the consistency hadn't been there and I was just looking forward to getting home and being around my family. I didn't really have a date for when I wanted to hit a tennis ball again after that. It took me a little bit of time to get back out there. But eventually I did and I felt like once I did, I finally let go of some of that negative emotion. I just got out there and was focusing on enjoying playing again.”

With the enjoyment came success. Harrison qualified for nine tour-level events in 2016, including in Washington and Toronto, where he scored two third-round appearances. Closing on a return to the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Harrison put himself firmly back on the radar at the US Open. As a qualifier he shocked World No. 6 Milos Raonic en route to the third round. It was an extra special week for the Harrison family, with Ryan’s younger brother, Christian, also qualifying.

“I don't think my ability ever left,” said Ryan Harrison. “People talk about me having the potential to win majors and having that sort of ability. That doesn't just go away. You still have ability in you, it's just a matter of putting yourself in the right positions to let that come out and excel.

“So for me, once the mind was better, the good results could follow. With the way tennis is set up, if you're not ranked high enough to be seeded, you have to fight some tough opponents early on in tournaments. I was able to win one or two of those matches and get a little bit of an opening in some draws and capitalise on it. That allowed me to continue to build confidence and here we are.

“I'm just happy, honestly,” continued Harrison, who is focused on purely enjoying the moment and not setting rankings goals. “Things are good. I'm getting married, playing a high level. I can see the daylight again of where I want to be with my tennis career and moving in the right direction. Happiness and confidence leads to better things happening and I think that that's where I'm at. A good level is going to put me in a good position to win and if I win, my ranking will find itself where it does.”

Raonic Rolls In Aussie Opener

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 5:06am

Milos Raonic wasted little energy on Tuesday during his Australian Open first-round contest, beating "Hot Shot Machine" Dustin Brown of Germany 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

”It's obviously tough to have necessarily a solid performance all the way through, but I did what I needed to,” said Raonic. “I took care of my serve. I broke quite early in all the sets. I just dropped off a little bit where I faced a few sort of dangers on my service games in the beginning of the third, end of the second. I returned pretty solid when I had to. I stepped up, and I played well.”

The third-seeded Raonic continued his attacking style, which has gained new emphasis under coach Richard Krajicek. Raonic won 73 per cent of his net points (19/26). More importantly, he erased all three break points faced during the one-hour and 32-minute win.

Raonic reached the semi-finals in Melbourne a year ago and led runner-up Andy Murray two sets to one before losing in five sets. The 26-year-old Raonic will next meet Gilles Muller, who won his first ATP World Tour title on Saturday at the Apia International Sydney (d. Evans), after he hit 30 aces to defeat #NextGenATP Taylor Fritz 7-6(8), 7-6(5), 6-3.

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Eighth seed Dominic Thiem converted five of his 19 break point opportunities to overcome Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 54 minutes. He now challenges Jordan Thompson, who fought back from an 0-2 sets deficit to beat World No. 37 and last week’s ASB Classic runner-up Joao Sousa 6-7(2), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.

Benoit Paire lead former World No. 2 Tommy Haas 7-6(2), 6-4, when his German opponent – a three-time semi-finalist at Melbourne Park – retired due to fatigue. Haas, 38, has undergone 15 surgeries in a 20-year professional career, which includes being the 2004 and 2012 ATP World Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year awards recipient. Paire advanced to play Fabio Fognini, a straight sets victor over No. 28 seed Feliciano Lopez.

David Goffin, the No. 11 seed, battled to knock out big-serving qualifier Reilly Opelka, who was making his Grand Slam championship debut, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in just under three hours. He’ll next play another qualifier, 38-year-old Radek Stepanek, in the second round.