Harrison beats Young 6-4, 6-4 in Memphis, reaches 1st final
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ryan Harrison beat fellow American Donald Young 6-4, 6-4 in 90 minutes Saturday night at the Memphis Open semifinals, finally advancing to his first career final in his eighth try.
“I certainly didn’t expect it to be six years until I got here,” Harrison said. “Nevertheless, I guess that’s why it’s a good thing my career got started early. Now I feel like things are coming together and I’m not 32 or 33, I’m 24. So I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. I don’t think that I’m playing to the best of my ability.”
Harrison failed to convert four match points as Young broke him in the eighth game of the second set before holding serve to win. Harrison finished serving up his fifth ace on his fifth match point. He credited Young, who leaves Memphis still looking for his first career ATP World Tour title, with raising his play.
“I lost four match points, but I didn’t play a bad point,” Harrison said.
Harrison will play Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, a 7-6 (5), 6-1 winner over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, for the championship Sunday. Someone will leave Memphis with his first ATP title for the first time at this event since Joachim Johansson in 2004 and second on tour this year. Gilles Muller won his first title in Sydney last month.
This marked the first time in this tournament’s 41-year history without a seeded player in the semifinals and the first on tour since 2013 in Nice. Kukushkin came into the semifinals as the only player with a title to his credit, 2010 at St. Petersburg. But he could not overcome Basilashvili.
Young ousted No. 2 seed John Isner in three sets Friday night to reach his second semifinal here in three years, but Delray Beach in 2015 remains the last final he reached. Harrison hadn’t played a semifinal Acapulco in 2015.
Harrison broke Young in the fifth game of the first set and served out to win. In the second set, Harrison broke Young in the first game and again to go up 4-1 and was up 5-1. Up 5-2, Harrison had match point before Young broke him. Harrison had three match points trying to break Young who fought back from 0-40 to hold serve.
But Harrison, who could become the first American winner in Memphis since Andy Roddick in 2011, didn’t allow a point to finish the match.
This will move Harrison back into the Top 50 of the rankings for the first time since he was 43rd in July 2012.
“It’s all surreal,” Harrison said.
Basilashvili, trying to be the first from Georgia to win an ATP World Tour title, needed 1 hour, 46 minutes to reach his first final since 2016 Kitzbuehel, and he advanced by attacking Kukushkin’s serve and eventually wearing him down in a match where he had 14 break points. Basilashvili said he was surprised he did not lose focus during the missed opportunities.
“I had a lot and could not execute,” Basilashvili said. “I was just waiting my moment. On the set point, I just played really good.”
Kukushkin broke Basilashvili’s serve to go up 2-0 only to be broken himself. Basilashvili took the first set in the tiebreaker after Kukushkin held serve on nine break points. Basilashvili went up 6-4 in the tiebreaker with a backhand winner into the corner, then won set point when Kukushkin hit into the net.
Ranked 67th in the ATP rankings, Basilashvili then broke Kukushkin to go up 2-0 in the second set and again to take a 5-1 lead before holding serve for the match.