© Getty Images

Ryan Harrison was two points away from defeat on Saturday during his semi-final against Alex de Minaur but prevailed.

Harrison Halts Aussie's Dream Week

American will face Kyrgios in Brisbane final

All week in Brisbane, defending champion Grigor Dimitrov and a pair of Aussie semi-finalists – 18-year-old Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios – had stolen the attention during the opening week of the ATP World Tour season.

But quietly, Ryan Harrison of the U.S. had gone about his work, leading the tournament in aces and battling through a pair of early three-set contests. Now the American will go for his second ATP World Tour title in the past 11 months.

Harrison ended the fairytale run of #NextGenATP de Minaur on Saturday afternoon, coming back from a 3/5 deficit in the second-set tie-break to advance 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. Harrison will play in his third ATP World Tour final, all of which have come since February 2017, when the American won the Memphis Open (d. Basilashvili) for his maiden title. Last July, Harrison fell to countryman John Isner in the BB&T Atlanta Open final.

The 25-year-old will face either top seed and Brisbane doubles partner Dimitrov or the third-seeded Kyrgios in Sunday's final. “I'm excited to be in the final. They're both great players. I'm going to have to play really good tennis to have a shot there,” Harrison said on court.

And to think, Harrison had never won even a set in Brisbane before this week. The right-hander had gone 0-4 during his prior appearances. But a new attitude might be to thank for his early success. Harrison, who, like de Minaur, was a highly-touted teenager on the ATP World Tour, said he's simply looking to compete in 2018 and forget about expectations.

“Coming into this year I want to leave it all on the court every time I play. I feel like if I do that I'll be improving. I didn't have a whole lot of pressure on myself. I was just trying to play as hard as I could and I'm in the final,” Harrison said.

You May Also Like: Is That A Bird? Is That A Plane? No, It's Dimitrov!

De Minaur, before facing Harrison, hadn't lost a set this week in Brisbane. The 18-year-old had captured the hearts of thousands of Aussie fans this week by beating two Top 50 players – No. 44 Steve Johnson and No. 24 Milos Raonic, along with #NextGenATP counterpart Michael Mmoh – and was the clear fan favourite to reach his maiden ATP World Tour final.

“The No. 1 thing I wanted to do was take the crowd of it. Miserable fail,” Harrison said before laughing.

Proactive play – aggressive second-serve returning and attacking the net often – had de Minaur two points away from reaching the title match. At 5/4 in the second-set tie-break, de Minaur had the contest on his racquet. But Harrison won the first point to get 5/5, and de Minaur double faulted before smacking a forehand long on set point.

Read More: Harrison Reflects On Journey To Career-High Ranking

The Aussie then started flat in the decider, and Harrison seized the opportunity, breaking twice to lead 5-1. He was broken while trying to serve out the match at 5-2, but Harrison recovered and held to love to reach the title match.

“The thing that I love about his game is how aggressive he is... He's got a really bright future. It was a pleasure to play him,” Harrison said. “I was just trying to tell myself to compete as hard as I could, focus as much as I could on my side of the court. And then hope that he was going to give me a dip in level. I don't know if he dipped in level but I think things only just worked out for me.”

De Minaur, however, walked away from the semi-final feeling positive about his career week. 

“I played a great match. I had my opportunities. [It] was very close. It was a couple points away, but it's tennis. You have some of your biggest highs, and then you've got some matches where you finish and you're a little bit heartbroken. But this is what I love about this sport. The highs and lows. But this is just going to make me work harder tomorrow, get ready for my next one,” he said.

“It's an incredible high for me this whole week. And I'm just using it as a learning curve to bigger and better things. So I'm really looking forward to what's to come.”

 Watch Live On TennisTV

 Watch Full Match Replays

More stories like this in: