Eleven years ago, the 15-year-old Ryan Harrison qualified in Houston and grabbed the first ATP win at the age of 15, reaching the quarter-final in 2012 but mostly losing in the opening round at the River Oaks Country Club.
That all changed on Monday when Ryan took down the Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4 in 57 minutes, beating Ivo for the first time since Acapulco 2015. A former champion fired 11 aces which wasn't enough for a more favorable result, struggling on the second serve and getting broken once in each set to propel Harrison through.
The American dropped just seven points behind the initial shot, facing no break points and dictating the pace from start to finish to advance into the last 16. Ivo saved a couple of break points in the fourth game of the match, wasting a game point next time he served and losing serve after a backhand down the line winner from Harrison who moved 4-2 in front.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Ryan fired three winners to close the opener, hoping for more of the same in set number two. There, we saw nine easy holds on both sides and one loose service game from Karlovic that cost him the match, missing a game point and allowing Ryan to break him with a beautiful forehand down the line winner that moved him a set and a break up.
Serving for the match at 5-4, the American landed four winners to secure the third win of the season and book the place in round two. Casper Ruud grabbed the sixth triumph in 2019 following a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Hugo Dellien in an hour and 41 minutes, losing serve once and stealing the rival's serve twice to prevail in straight sets.
Trailing 4-2 in the opener, the Norwegian managed to bounce back and secure a tie break where he fended off a break point at 5-6, taking the breaker 9-7 for a huge momentum before the rest of the encounter. The second set was decided in the fifth game when Ruud broke Dellien, converting the fifth match point at 5-4 to continue his good form on clay so far this season.
The struggling American Taylor Fritz will not defend the semi-final points, losing to a former winner Marcel Granollers 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in just under two hours. Both players faced seven break points and it was the more experienced one who delivered better tennis in the crucial moments, fending off six of those and scoring four breaks to control the scoreboard in sets one and three, breaking Taylor twice in each to claim the second ATP win of the season.
Bernard Tomic toppled Denis Kudla 7-6, 7-5 in an hour and 45 minutes, blasting 11 aces and saving two out of four break points. Denis repelled five out of eight break points and that wasn't enough at least for a set, losing ground in the pivotal moments of both to send the Aussie over the finish line.
They traded breaks in games four and five in the first set to bring the tie break where Kudla wasted two set points at 6-5 and 7-6. In the end, Bernard won it 10-8 although he had to dig deep in the second set as well after falling 3-0 behind.
Denis was unable to stay in front for too long and he squandered a couple of break points at 4-3 that could have sent him in front again. Instead of that, Tomic secured a break at 5-5, sealing the deal with a hold in the following game for the third win in 2019.