Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ryan Harrison is Putting in the Work

(August 14, 2013)--Three weeks after signing on with USTA coaching, Ryan Harrison very nearly pulled off his first career win against a top ten foe when he met David Ferrer at the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday.

Harrison took the first set and battled the whole way, even breaking Ferrer to get back on serve late in the third set, but eventually the 21-year-old Shreveport, Louisiana Native fell to the World No. 4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 4-6.

The defeat drops Harrison's record against the ATP's top ten to 0-19. That could be demoralizing for any young player, which makes Harrison's dogged pursuit of success on the ATP tour all the more commendable.

Instead of hanging his head or patting himself on the back for "almost" taking out one of the tour's best players, Harrison hit the practice courts immediately after his 2:42 struggle with Ferrer:
With Brad Gilbert, who is currently coaching up many young Americans during his trial run with the USTA, imparting some of his wisdom on Harrison, things are bound to turn around for Harrison soon. Harrison may not be as wildly talented as Andre Agassi or Andy Rodddick--players that Gilbert has helped get to the promised land--but he's talented, he's driven, and he's still young.

"I just wish I had served a little better," the former World No. 43 said after Tuesday's loss. "Obviously, I had some chances. I feel like my game is right there on the brink of playing those top guys. That's kind of where you want it."

He added: "Obviously, it would have been great to get a win today, but I know that, going in, if I compete the way I can and play the way I'm capable of, I'm going to be able to challenge just about anybody."

Harrison, currently ranked 102, has received a wild card into this year's U.S. Open. In 2010 as an 18-year-old, Harrison notched his first career top 20 win when he defeated Ivan Ljubicic in the first round. It wasn't necessarily a sign of things to come, as Harrison owns a career record of 3-26 to go with his zero against the top ten, but it was a clear indication that Harrison has the talent to do damage against top players.

It has been a rough run for Harrison since he reached his career-high ranking of 43 last July. Since it hasn't killed him, could it be that it will make him stronger?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Darren Cahill Talks Federer with The Changeover

(August 2, 2013)- ESPN's Darren Cahill, former coach to Grand Slam champions Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi if you're scoring at home, spoke his mind about Roger Federer's recent troubles lately, in an interview with Amy Fetherolf of The Changeover. Having worked with Andre Agassi during the latter phase of his career, when Agassi was taking regular cortisone shots to keep his unruly back issues at bay, Cahill knows a thing or two about players dealing with a back issue.

Read the full interview, which features some very insightful comments about Bernie and John Tomic and many other tidbits, HERE. Meantime, here are the aforementioned excerpts:
"That’s been an issue for a couple of years. Credit to Rog, he hasn’t really made a huge deal of it. We’ve seen him struggle with it on-court a few times now. It’s becoming more evident that it’s popping up more often than it used to, and that’s a problem for him.

He has to find a way at his age now to at least level that out, make that back issue plateau to the point where it doesn’t get any worse, or find a way that he can overcome that. Because with the way the game’s improving, the way these players are playing, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, these guys are improving. They’re not stagnating.

So for Roger to constantly have to take that time off, you feel like you’re slipping behind. Not only are you not playing great at the moment, but you can’t put in the work in the offseason or those weeks off to improve as a tennis player... Unless you’ve put that work in on the practice court, then you can’t walk onto the court and feel like you’re going to get it done against these best players in the world.

That’s sort of where Roger is at the moment. The last two years, you feel like he’s been climbing up the wall, then slipping a little bit because of the back, then climbing back up, and slipping a little bit, while the other guys are just shooting straight up the wall.

The back issue is the main issue. I think the racquet is a great adjustment that needs time. He’s been using the same technology now for 15 or so years. I think it’s absolutely worthwhile to try. But more importantly, he needs to be healthy.

I was with Andre for six years, and the last couple of years, when he was 34, 35 years old, he struggled with his back as well. It was a real balancing act, making sure that when he did step on court, he was healthy and fit. We also didn’t keep him on-court too long, it would actually wear him down. Gil Reyes, the fitness training coach of Andre that was working with me, we were constantly in conversation about what he needed a couple of weeks out from a tournament, what he was going to need one week out from a tournament, what he would need one day before a tournament started. That conversation between player, coach, and trainer becomes even more important when a player gets to 30 and above.

He was taking cortisone shots for the last six months of his career, just to get himself onto the court. Roger’s nowhere near that, obviously, but things can snowball pretty quickly if you don’t take care of business.

It might just mean that Roger may eventually have to take a good chunk of time off the tour to make sure he addresses his problem.... I have no doubt that he can put himself in a place to win more majors."