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Beyond the Baseline

Andy Roddick's advice to Ryan Harrison: 'Act like the exception'

Ryan Harrison, Andy Roddick Ryan Harrison and Andy Roddick were both on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Ryan Harrison will drop out of the top 60 after losing to Benjamin Becker in the first round of the SAP Open on Tuesday. After the match he revealed he was sick, which may also explain his 37-minute loss in doubles with John Isner on Monday night.

Harrison, 20, said he's frustrated by his lack of progress but is learning to accept the process and focus on closing the gap. Andy Roddick is firmly in his corner, not just acting as a sideline cheerleader. As Harrison told reporters in San Jose, Calif., Roddick is giving him the cold, hard truths about his game.

“He said if you want to be a pro at that level you have to train, eat and sleep at that level and not just do the hours on the court,” Harrison said. “You have to devote every aspect of your life to that level…If you want to be the exception, you  have to act like the exception. You can’t do things at the pace of a 20-year-old, you have to emulate what the guys at the top are doing.”

Harrison was candid in identifying the areas of his game that are lacking. It comes down to consistency and aggression. That's great to hear considering the two lasting images I have of Harrison's Australian Open were of him nearly running into linesmen at the back of the court in his four-set win over Santiago Giraldo in the first round and then getting yanked side to side by Novak Djokovic in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 dismissal two days later.

“I have to get substantially better off the ground and definitely a lot fitter, too. I can serve as hard as anyone, but my percentages are very up and down right now. Sometimes I serve 70 percent. Sometimes I serve 50 percent. I have to be a little more consistent. I’m volleying OK, but the more you come in you start getting comfortable at reading things, but if you are not in as much as you want, you start losing confidence. Lately I’ve been trying to be a little more imposing.”
Harrison will play the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis next week.

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