By Zack Mason/BB&T Atlanta Open
Ryan Harrison advanced to his second BB&T Atlanta Open semifinal after overcoming a gutsy performance from Colombian Santiago Giraldo, 6-3, 3-6 7-6(2).
This was a highly competitive encounter in which both players won over 70% of their first serves and hit roughly 30 clean winners. Nearly two-fifths of the rallies in this match extended beyond four shots, with both players engaged in a war of attrition involving consistency, depth, and varied shot selection.
Harrison drew blood first, breaking Giraldo at 2-1 with impressive retrieval skills that had the crowd excitedly on its feet. A few games later, and Harrison arrived at his first set point, slamming down an ace to take the first set. However, the second set featured a disappointing dip in play from the young American as Giraldo began to inject much-needed aggression into his groundstrokes and pressure his opponent into numerous mistakes. A double fault from Harrison would give Giraldo all the momentum he needed, as he broke for 5-3 and closed out the set with little resistance.
The third set began ominously, as Harrison double faulted on the first point and responded by angrily launching a ball into the night sky. However, his ability to overcome this frustration and eventually win his first service game was vital; it demonstrated that Harrison wasn’t going to concede the Colombian defeat without a dogged fight.
Indeed, Harrison’s mental stability would prove to be more reliable than that of Giraldo as the players headed to a match-deciding tiebreak. Each competitor had showed tremendous fortitude in refusing to drop serve in this final set, but it was Giraldo who cracked first as he quickly dropped the opening 4 points in the tie-break and later found himself in an insurmountable 1-6 hole.
Though the Colombian struck a wicked backhand down the line to save one match point, Harrison denied Giraldo any chance at redemption with a signature forehand winner. Harrison displayed tremendous resiliency in this match, something he attributed to his comfort level on Atlanta’s hard courts. He will need to bring his Atlanta best to Saturday’s semifinal in order reach his first ATP Tour final.