Perhaps one of the most surprising tournament runs at the 2012 U.S. Open can be found in the men's doubles draw. Much-heralded American Ryan Harrison has teamed up with his younger brother Christian to advance to the quarterfinals.
While doubles at the Grand Slams often have an air of unpredictability around them, with unseeded teams even going on to win majors, this run by the Harrisons is very unexpected, considering the two hadn't even played together on the ATP World Tour this year.
Ryan Harrison's singles run at the Open ended in the second round at the hands of Juan Martin del Potro in a tough four-setter. But with this run to the quarterfinals of the doubles and losing that four-setter to one of the favorites for the men's title, are the signs pointing to Harrison being ready to take the next big step in his career on the singles side?
Already in 2012, the 20-year-old Harrison has put together the best season of his young career, having made three singles semifinals. He's also had a solid year in doubles, winning his second professional title right before the start of the U.S. Open in Winston-Salem with Australian Matthew Ebden.
En route to the doubles quarterfinals in New York, Ryan and Christian, 18, have beaten three elite pairings: No. 4 seeds and '11 U.S. Open finalists Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski in the first round; former Australian Open champions Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram in the second; and the No. 14 seeds Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins in the third round.
In the quarterfinals, the Harrisons face No. 9 seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Roger, which at this point looks like a winnable match.
But regardless if they win or not, what they've done so far is remarkable, and the older Harrison could use this as a definite springboard to more success on the singles side.
There is an abundance of smaller-tier tournaments coming up in the months ahead. What will be crucial is getting his ranking high enough to ensure a top-eight seed in some of them, where his chances improve upon making a quarterfinal here and a semifinal there.
Then by the time the Masters 1000 Series events in Shanghai and Paris roll around, perhaps he will be in position to make a run at the Round of 16 or quarterfinals at either of those tournaments.
If Ryan Harrison manages to firmly ensconce himself in the top 40 in singles by year's end, this somewhat startling U.S. Open doubles run could definitely be seen as the catalyst.
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