MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ryan Harrison served up the ace that won his first career ATP World Tour title, and then stuck both hands over his head, pointing index fingers skyward in celebration.
A tour title.
Better yet, Harrison won before family, friends and supporters who watched him grow up in Shreveport, Louisiana, on a court at the tennis club he knew intimately before ever playing his first professional match here.
Harrison beat Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to win the Memphis Open at The Racquet Club.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clinched his 13th career title on Sunday, rallying from a set down to beat David Goffin of Belgium 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the World Tennis Tournament.
Top-seeded Kei Nishikori was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by Alexandr Dolgopolov on Sunday in the final of the clay-court Argentina Open.
“It’s always special to win a title, and especially your first one,” an emotional Harrison said. “But when you’re winning it like this in front of your family and friends and people who’ve come out and supported you ever since I was playing 10-and-under events … it definitely means a lot to win that in front of everybody like that.”
Harrison, 24, took the first set in 27 minutes before fighting off 10 break points in the second to win the match in 1 hour, 16 minutes. For the match, Harrison saved all 12 break points he faced.
He took home the winner’s check of $114,595 and 250 points. This victory is expected to move Harrison to No. 43 in the world, matching his career-best ranking reached in July 2012. Since then, the American had dipped to as low as 197 in the rankings as recently as Oct. 20, 2014. Last March, Harrison was just 168th to make this climb back even more special.
“For me to be where I am now, and where I was seven, eight months ago and feeling like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s surreal,” Harrison said. “I honestly can’t believe it. It’s just so amazing to me.”
He joined Gilles Muller (Sydney) as a first-time winner on tour this year. Harrison is the first to make Memphis his inaugural ATP title since Joachim Johansson in 2004. Harrison also became the 14th American to win Memphis in the 41-year history of this indoor event, and the first since Andy Roddick in 2011.
Harrison also won a Challenger title in Dallas two weeks ago, and he is the first since David Goffin in 2014 to win a Challenger event and then an ATP title in back-to-back tournaments. Harrison teamed with Steve Johnson in the doubles final after a quick turnaround and lost 6-3, 6-4 to American Brian Baker and Croatian Nikola Mektic.
This was Basilashvili’s second career ATP final, and his first since Kitzbuehel last year. He knocked off top-seeded Ivo Karlovic in the second round. He upset Dominic Thiem, ranked eighth in the world, to reach the semifinals in Sofia last week. Basilashvili said he didn’t have the energy to cover the court as he had in matches over the past two weeks.
Harrison handled Basilashvili’s powerful strokes by moving way back from the baseline, often playing shots a step behind the Memphis logo on either end of the court.
In the first set, Basilashvili had his best chance to break Harrison in the first game at 15-40. Basilashvili crashed to the court after moving to his right on his first break point, and then Harrison pushed the game to deuce. He held serve when Basilashvili put a backhand into the net. Harrison broke Basilashvili to go up 3-1 and again in the sixth game on his way to winning the set.
Basilashvili had a chance to break Harrison in each of the American’s five service games in the second set. Each time, Harrison fought back, starting in the second game when the American served up an ace that just caught the line and then forced deuce. Harrison served up another ace to hold serve.
“Ryan played unbelievable on his break points,” Basilashvili said.
Harrison broke Basilashvili to go up 3-2, and then fought back from 0-40 to force deuce and hold serve for a 4-2 lead. Harrison had to battle back to force deuce in the eighth game and trailed again 15-40 in the final game. Harrison finished off the win with an ace and started celebrating.