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Ryan Harrison Halts de Minaur’s Run @ Brisbane Tennis, To Battle Nick Kyrgios For Title For 2018

Ryan Harrison of the USA in action against Alex de Minaur of Australia during their semi-final match at the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament in Brisbane, Australia, 06 January 2018. EPA-EFE/DARREN ENGLAND

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Alex de Minaur’s Brisbane International run came to end on Saturday afternoon with a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 loss to Ryan Harrison in the first semifinal. de Minaur put himself within two points of his first career ATP final while serving at 5-4 in the second set tiebreaker, but Harrison eventually turned the tide to prevail in two hours and 37 minutes.

 

A forehand error at 5-4 by de Minaur followed by a double-fault at 5-5 allowed Harrison to wrap up set two on his own serve at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. The American was off to the races thereafter, breaking twice in succession in the decider on the way to a 5-2 lead. Harrison hiccuped once while serving for victory, but he soon closed things out with a clutch hold at 5-4.

 

“I played a great match,” the 18-year-old de Minaur assured. “I had my opportunities. (It) was very close. It was a couple points away, but it’s tennis. You have some of your biggest highs, and then you’ve got some matches where you finish and you’re a little bit heartbroken. But this is what I love about this sport–the highs and lows. But this is just going to make me work harder tomorrow; get ready for my next one.

 

“It’s an incredible high for me this whole week. And I’m just using it as a learning curve to bigger and better things. So I’m really looking forward to what’s to come.”

 

Nick Kyrgios of Australia returns a ball during his semi-final match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 06 January 2018. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT

For Harrison, what’s coming next is a final against another Australian in Nick Kyrgios. Brisbane’s third seed beat defending Brisbane champion and recent Nitto ATP Finals winner Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi. Kyrgios blasted 19 aces compared to a mere two double-faults while winning 82 percent of his first-serve points.

 

“I hadn’t beaten him before,” said Kyrgios, who had been 0-2 in his career against Dimitrov prior to Saturday. “Going into today, I knew that I was going to do something a little different. I was going to kind of just not give him too much rhythm. Come in a lot, be super aggressive off my returns. And obviously try and just serve, just serve pretty much anywhere and just play aggressive. He played a pretty solid first set. I played a pretty loose game to get broken. And then, pretty much from then on, I felt pretty in control of the match.”

 

Kyrgios and Harrison will now be squaring off for the third time in their careers. Both of their previous encounters have gone the Aussie’s way; 7-5, 6-2 two years ago in Tokyo and 6-3, 6-3 on the red clay of Madrid last spring.

 

There will be no love lost between the two. A borderline feud stemmed from the well-documented 2015 Montreal incident involving Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka. At the Cincinnati Masters one week later, Harrison got into a heated argument with another young Aussie–Thanasi Kokkinakis–that led him to say, “Wawrinka should’ve decked Kyrgios and I should deck that kid.”

 

After defeating Dimitrov on Saturday, Kyrgios was asked about his “history” with Harrison and if that adds “anything extra” to the match. “I don’t think so,” he answered. “Matches haven’t been very close, so I don’t really know why there’s much history there.”

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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