Garin Stunned By No. 789 Harrison At Delray Beach Open

Christian Harrison (photo: Andrew Patron/@DelrayBeachOpen/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, January 10, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Top seed Cristian Garin of Chile was stunned by 789th-ranked American qualifier Christian Harrison in his season debut, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the ATP 250 Delray Beach Open by, in Delray Beach, Fla.

The oft-injured brother of Ryan Harrison, whose career-best ranking of 198th was achieved two years ago and needed a wild card just to get into qualifying, owned just two ATP Tour-level singles wins before this week. With his second straight main draw win, following an earlier triumph against No 256 Tomas Etcheverry, Harrison has attained his first ATP Tour quarterfinal and his ranking will rise at least 327 spots. He will play No. 101 Gianluca Mager of Italy, who took out sixth seed and 2016 Delray Beach Open champion Sam Querrey of the United States, 7-6 (8), 6-1.

“I just love the sport, I love what I’m doing,” Harrison said during a virtual news conference. “I just can’t wait to keep playing and hopefully have a good healthy next couple of years.”

Christian Harrison became the second-lowest-ranked quarterfinalist in Delray Beach tournament history, trailing Juan Martín del Potro, who was ranked No. 1,042 when he reached the final eight in 2016. Harrison’s career has been one punctuated by surgeries – eight of them to be exact. Since 2009, he’s undergone surgeries for his left femur (2009), right hip (2013), left hip (2014), right shoulder (2014), right wrist (2014), right adductor (2014), left adductor (2014) and left femur, again (2018).

When the 22nd-ranked Garin, who turned pro in 2011 and has garnered four career titles – all on clay in the past two years – was asked during his virtual news conference if his loss could be chocked up to first-match-of-the-season nerves, the Chilean, 24, said, “Yeah, like I said before the tournament, it would be difficult to play for me.

“When I got here, the first practice I felt very uncomfortable with the conditions. I had bad feelings. I had been practicing so good [before the tournament], but I played bad today. I think I have to keep going and think about the next [tournament].”

Harrison won 13 of the final 18 games of the one hour and 30 minute match.

Garin gave props to Harrison for his perseverance, saying, “He played well. He played very good, of course. He’s won four matches this week [including qualifying]. These conditions are good form. He played really flat, really fast. The ball helps his game a lot and I hope he can play like this the rest of the year.”

Meanwhile, there will be better days ahead for Garin, whose record on hard courts fell to 15-27. “It’s not so good to start like this,” he said, but I have no bad feelings because the conditions were horrible. … Now, I just want to get back into the rhythm of the competition.”

Korda reaches first Tour-level quarterfinal

In a battle among young Americans, 20-year-old former junior No. 1 Sebastian Korda of the United States showed why he deserves recognition as one of the ATP’s NextGen rising stars. The 119th-ranked Korda rallied to beat fifth seed Tommy Paul, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, to reach his first ATP Tour-level quarterfinal.

The match drew considerable interest among the limited number of fans who were allowed to attend at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Club. Korda rose to the occasion against and won his fifth career main draw match, closing it out on his first match-point opportunity in two hours and eight minutes.

Despite needing medical attention on his left leg after the first set, Korda was an opportunist throughout, taking advantage of five break-point conversions against the No. 52 Paul. Additionally, he finished with three aces and won 62 percent (36 of 58) of his first-serve points and saved nine of the 11 break points he faced from Paul. Korda outpointed Paul 91-79.

During his virtual news conference after his second win of the young season – and seventh straight going back to his ATP Challenger Tour title performance in Eckental, Germany in November – Korda said: “It’s special to make the quarterfinals. The last time I played here I won the 18s Clay Courts. So, I have some good memories from here. It’s a special place and the crowd.”

On Monday, Korda will face No. 2 seed John Isner of the United States, ranked 25th, who advanced over No. 84 Thiago Monteiro of Brazil, 6-4, 7-6 (4), in one hour and 33 minutes Saturday night on the strength of 22 service aces and an 85-percent efficiency on winning his first-serve points. It will be a rematch of their 2019 Roland Garros second-round clash, which Korda won 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

“I definitely want to be in the top 100 by the end of the year, but the big thing for me is just getting comfortable playing these big guys, these big tournaments, and just having my game progress,” Korda said. “For me, it’s just one day at a time right now. Just being around these players again and seeing that I have the level to play these guys is inspiring for me, and all the hard work that I did in the offseason really paid off.”

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