Ryan Harrison’s road to his new career-high ranking of No. 42 has not been what he envisioned.
The 25-year-old was once dubbed the next great American tennis player. A big-serving Louisiana native, Harrison cracked the Top 10 of the junior rankings when he was just 15, and was the 10th player in the Open era to win a tour-level match before turning 16.
There was no shortage of expectations for Harrison.
In 2010, Harrison became a household name after he pushed Sergiy Stakhovsky in a five-set thriller in the second round of the US Open.
But with expectations come the possibility of disappointment, which the American found out firsthand after reaching a career-high ranking of No. 43 just after his 20th birthday.
“Then came the setbacks—finishing 2012 was tough,” Harrison wrote on Facebook. “As you improve on tour the competition gets so much tougher. I finished the year with a 2-10 record on tour and by July 2013 I was back outside the top 100… This was not my vision and I did not even recognize myself on court.”
The results stopped coming in, coupled with injury setbacks, and his ranking dropped as low as No. 197 in 2014. He wouldn't get back inside the Top 100 for two years.
“My frustration was showing and over the next few years I went from being a top competitor, passionate tennis player and fan to being so scared of what I was going to get out of myself each day that I didn't even want to go on court,” Harrison, who contemplated whether or not to quit after Wimbledon last year, wrote. “I reached the point where I felt as if I was never going to be back at the top of the game again.”
He lost in the first round of qualifying at the All-England Club, which he called rock bottom, but would reach the fourth round in Washington and Toronto before making a third-round run at the US Open. He was rewarded with his first career title in Memphis earlier this year.
Despite losing to Marin Cilic in straight sets in the second round of Rome on Tuesday, Harrison appears more ready to chase the goals that many expected him to reach years ago.
“I am so excited and motivated to keep going and continue taking those steps to reach my goals,” Harrison wrote. “I am beyond thankful to all my fans around the world who have stayed with me and supported me at every stage—thank you!”