Monday August 29th, 2011

Ryan Harrison fell in straight sets to Marin Cilic in the first round of the U.S. Open. (Stan Honda/Getty Images)

Ryan Harrison became the first American to tumble out of the U.S. Open, losing to lanky Marin Cilic, 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (6) on Monday. If you were watching the match, you know he wasn't all too pleased about it.

Harrison played passively, making his home three to five feet behind the baseline and letting the hard-hitting Cilic blast away on his groundstrokes as if the match were a hitting drill.

"I didn't come to the net a whole lot," Harrison said after the match. "That was probably one of the things I could have done better.

"You know, I guess the volleying is kind of a finishing shot from the groundstroke and my positioning was pretty far back," he added. "That was partly due to the fact I wasn't feeling very good hitting the ball, so I wasn't feeling like I was able to step up and hit my shots the way I normally would."

But Harrison had his chances. After all, this is Marin Cilic we're talking about here. A closer he is not.

After dropping the first set without putting up much of a fight, Harrison scratched and clawed his way to stay with Cilic. But every time Cilic blinked (predictably), Harrison didn't just blink, he shut his eyes and took a nap. For a young man who prides himself on his ability to compete, Harrison just could not get out of his own way.

He served for both the second and third sets after earning a break advantage, but failed to hold serve in either of the crucial games. And the 19-year-old American held a 5-2 lead in the third-set tiebreak, but again couldn't close it out. Harrison just could not get across the finish line, playing some bad points at key moments and otherwise letting his emotions get the better of him. It was an odd combination of poor tactics and not playing the big points well.

What's worse is Harrison's bratty demeanor on the court. You can argue that his antics help his game (disagree) but you can't argue that it's appropriate. He screams, he kicks balls, he's short with ball kids and he throws/smashes his racket. He does this regularly, and not in a charming, Marat Safin kind of way. It's all part of the "Ryan Harrison Show" which, much like The OC, started out fun and fresh, went off the rails and is now stuck in reruns. I've seen this episode before, Ryan. It's old. I need a new storyline.

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