Christian Harrison

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“Nothing feels better than blood on blood”, Bruce Springsteen sang in Highway Patrolman. And the Harrisons know it better than anyone else. While Ryan is struggling this season, his younger brother Christian won his maiden ITF Pro Circuit singles title at The Aegon GB Pro-Series Sheffield. In a repeat match up of the previous week’s final in Preston, he completed a 64 26 76(5) win over the British Ed Corrie.

 

Their father Pat managed the first steps of his sons' careers. He played college tennis and professionally for a short period. “When we were little”, he said in an interview for the ITF website, “my brother and I used to love to go to work with him and just hang out at the country club all day.  As soon as we were big enough to hold a racquet we were hitting balls against the wall”. He decided to leave their hometown, Shreveport, Louisiana (where many scenes of the HBO's smash hit True Blood have been filmed) and move to New Braunfels, Texas, just outside San Antonio.

 

Christian debuted as a junior at 13 in a qualification match for the Usta International Grass Court Championships at the Philadelpia Cricket Club. His professional debut, however, is long delayed. Christian had to wait november 2010 after 18 months out of competition due to a bone infection and surgery. In 2011 he started to register encouraging results in the ITF cuircuit: a quarter-final at Laguna Niguel (defeating Siwy and Venus befor losing to Kudla) and a semifinal at the Mexico F16 Future in Guadalajara.

 

In 2012 he added further four Futures semifinal and in August his career received an enormous boost. For the second time, Christian competed in the same event as Ryan when he was given a wild card into the qualifying draw of the Cincinnati Masters. He had to face one of the toughest possible opponents, the Colombian Alejandro Falla, ranked No.51. In his first match against a top-100, Christian managed to extend rallies showing patience and consistency but went only 2 of 8 on break points and lost 63 63.

 

At the US Open, soon after, he lived the best moment of his career, playing in doubles with his elder brother. “ It was the first time we played together at pro level and our first time playing together in a Grand Slam.  It was so much fun and the crowd support was amazing” he said. They defeated three solid couples: the Polish Frystenberg and Matkovski in the first round, then the Israeli Erlich and Ram and the British Fleming and Hutchins. In the quarters the Harrisons faced the Pakistani Queshi and the Dutch Rojer. “On the first point” Christiam recalls, “I got pegged off of an overhead in the worst place imaginable for a guy. It was so painful and the worst way to start my first Grand Slam quarterfinal. At the time it was pretty amusing for everyone but me but looking back now I can laugh at it”. Finally they lost in straight sets, 62 63.

 

Christian now lives in Florida and trains at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy. He loved watching Pete Sampras and looks a younger version of his brother. He has a nearly identical forehand as Ryan's and the same grinding defensive game. “I never like went ‘I want to hit my forehand the exact same as Ryan, the same stroke,’ ” Christian said to the New York Times last August. “I’ve never done that. If they look the same, that’s more just a natural effect, I guess”

 

Actually, Christian reached his best ranking at No.373. Should he break into the top-300, he and Ryan would become the third pair of brothers in such elite. So far, Jurgen (34th) and Gerald Melzer (246th) are the siblings with the lowest combined ranking, edging out Spaniards Marcel (36th) and Gerard Granollers (280th). For 2013, he said, “Ideally I would like to be inside the top 150 but I have a long way to go and a lot of matches to play between now and then”. Longer term, “you want to be No. 1 in the world,” Christian said. “Because if you don’t have the high expectations you’re always going to be cutting yourself short”.