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Harrison goes from U.S. Open sideshow to headliner with win

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Aug 31, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Ryan Harrison of the United States serves against Milos Raonic of Canada (not pictured) on day three of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Harrison won 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5, 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Ryan Harrison of the United States serves against Milos Raonic of Canada (not pictured) on day three of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Harrison won 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5, 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When the U.S. Open began Ryan Harrison was one half of a Flushing Meadows feel good story as he and younger brother Christian become the first siblings to come through qualifying into a grand slam main draw.

Christian departed in the opening round and according to the rankings and the script, world number 120 Ryan was supposed to follow his brother to the exit gate on Wednesday after his second-round match against fifth seed Milos Raonic.

End of story.

Except it was not. Harrison providing an unlikely twist when he upset the Canadian 6-7(4) 7-5 7-5 6-1 to reach the third round of a grand slam for the first time in an unfulfilled career.

Raonic, 25, and Harrison, 24, both arrived on the professional scene around the same time, branded as potential grand slam contenders.

The towering Canadian has largely lived up to that promise, reaching the finals of Wimbledon in July and one of the hot contenders to lift the season's final grand slam.

Harrison, on the other hand, represents one of the many false dawns of U.S. men's tennis which continues to await the next wave of champions.

There was another crop of promising American teenagers, including Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Jared Donaldson sprinkled throughout the U.S. Open draw. Ranked 120 and still without a career title, Harrison was a forgotten man.

"I'm still young, I’m 24," said Harrison, once hailed as the next big thing in U.S. tennis. "I've got a ways to go, especially with guys playing well into their 30s now.

"It's mental maturity, a little bit of stabilization with everything around me that is allowing me to play with a sense of calm and also with excitement.

"My personality is a very fiery one. I like to be really intense when I'm competing. Flirt with that line of getting so intense that it's taking me away from what I was trying to accomplish out there.

"It's kind of a hard balance."

In 2012, Harrison's world ranking peaked at number 43 and he appeared ready to break into the upper echelon.

Instead, his career arc has trended mostly downward. He has not been in the top 100 since 2014 and spent most of his time on the Challenger circuit.

But this summer the Texan has found some solid form, reaching the third round in Washington and Toronto and qualified for the main draw at Flushing Meadows winning all three matches.

"He's been having sort of a resurgence of a summer," said Raonic, who admitted he had followed Harrison's travails from afar.

"Hopefully he can make it count further on through this tournament ... but it's up to him to make it count."

(Editing by Larry Fine)


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