Ryan Harrison nearly forced a third set against Roger Federer today at the Sony Ericsson Open, but the Swiss prevailed 6-2, 7-6(3) in just under one-and-a-half hours on court. In his post-match press conference, Harrison talked about his expectation to win every match, why he doesn’t set ranking or tournament performance goals, and Federer’s renewed authority on court.
In the match, Federer easily broke Harrison during the second and eighth game of the first set, and after Federer was up 5-2 in the second, Harrison broke back and evened out the score to 5-5. Then things got interesting. Two quick errors by Federer, an error in line calling, and an interruption in play that caused Federer to stop playing all helped to escalate the energy on stadium court near the end of the final set.
With 28 winners, five aces and 3-of-8 break points won, Federer was clearly the better player but Harrison commented on Federer’s renewed authority on court:
“… from like a game standpoint, you can tell that [Federer is] hitting his shots with just like a complete conviction and confidence as opposed to … some times last year … he didn’t look like he had the same authority on a shot that he had.
… I mean, coming off of his match, as many matches as he has this year, he’s got this like authority about his game right now where he’s hitting his shots knowing he’s gonna make ’em. It’s gonna make it difficult for anyone to beat him.”
Harrison continued with his revelations and talked about his expectation to win:
“As a player you’re always looking to win every match, and it starts one at a time. [You may] get stuck for a month or two or however long it is … [but] there’s nobody that’s ever been happy with being stuck unless you’re at No. 1. (Smiling.)
That’s the only time you’ll ever be happy being stuck. Every day you’re gonna look to improve. You’re gonna approach every match ‑ at least I am ‑ with the expectation of winning.
Just if you’d ask me going into this week, What’s what’s your expectation for the tournament, I’d say, I’m gonna try to win every match and do as well as I can and try to win the tournament.
Didn’t win this week, so I’m gonna look for it to happen next week. That’s the way I’m gonna approach things.”
Finally, Harrison addressed his ranking and tournament performance goals with an air of maturity far beyond his years. This is outright one of the best explanations for why not to set goals, and quite honestly, it makes sense:
“I don’t believe in setting a specific ranking goal or a specific round that you want to get to.
Because let’s say I would have chose, ‘Let’s get to the round of 16 here. Okay?’ Then I get to the round of 16, well am I going to go into the match expecting to lose? What happens then?
… So ultimately what I’m gonna look to do is every day at practice, every day in a match, I’m gonna try and work on the things and incorporate the things that need to improve, whether it be higher first serve percentage today or being a little more aggressive with my forehand, looking to come in a little more, just different things that I need to improve on.
Hopefully that gets me where I want to go, which is ultimately in contention for Grand Slams. Obviously I’ve got a ways to go to get there, but that’s the ultimate goal.”