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American idol

Harrison can become the face of tennis in the States, says Barry

Barry Cowan Posted 27th June 2012 view comments

Novak Djokovic faces Ryan Harrison on Centre Court today, a man I think will become a top-10 player in the not too distant future.

I don't say that because he has such a fantastic array of shots but because he has that typical American attitude; he has the potential to become a really good grass-court player.

You might see him serve and volley a few times, attack Djokovic's serve, get inspired and I really do expect Harrison to take at least a set.

Harrison: Barry thinks the American will get on the scoreboard against Djokovic

Harrison: Barry thinks the American will get on the scoreboard against Djokovic

Djokovic should have just too much to avoid being upset, but the Serb will have to be on his A-Game to neuter his opponent today. The Centre Court crowd may not know too much about Harrison but they are in for a treat.

America needs a new tennis icon with Andy Roddick and James Blake coming to the end of their careers and John Isner going off the boil since his excellent performance at Indian Wells earlier this year. I'm not sure Isner is comfortable being his nation's number one, but I think that is something Harrison would relish.

I'm not sure Isner is comfortable being his nation's number one, but I think that is something Harrison would relish.

Barry Cowan
Quotes of the week

Fans in the States want a world number one and they take it personally when Europe are dominating the men's game as much as they are at present. They are desperate for someone to challenge for a Grand Slam and will be hoping Harrison can become that figure.

Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will contest for this Grand Slam and both progressed safely into round two on Tuesday.

Nadal made a slow start against Thomaz Bellucci and some of his supporters might have panicked but he didn't. His confidence showed and he came through in three sets.

Tsonga, meanwhile, was very impressive against Lleyton Hewitt, who played as well as he has done in quite some time and created many opportunities. But any time Tsonga was in trouble he pulled out a big serve, came to the net, and chipped and charged.

The Frenchmen has an aura and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the final. You can't say that with tremendous conviction as he has got Nadal in his portion of the draw - and maybe Murray in the semis - but he is ready to make that next step.

Awesome

I think Tsvetana Pironkova surprised a lot of people when she made the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2010. Sometimes that happens, though; you get people who go deep into a tournament, due to a kind draw or higher-ranked players having off-days, and then are not good enough to back it up.

That said, her game with Maria Sharapova, who was awesome on Monday, will be a great one and people who have done well at Wimbledon mustn't be dismissed, as Hewitt proved against Tsonga yesterday.

Sam Stosur looks in good form but I was convinced she was going to make the final of the French and she proceeded to lose to Sara Errani. She is not always incredibly strong mentally and is prone to a few wobbles along the way, while grass is not her best surface.

I think she likes being the underdog; a few years ago she folded in the French Open Final against Francesca Schiavone, but then at the back end of the 2011 summer, when there was less pressure on her, she beat Serena Williams in the US Open Final. She is under the radar here and should get past the improving Arantxa Rus this afternoon.

I also see Heather Watson being Jamie Hampton. The American got a fine win against Daniela Hantuchova in round one but could struggle to come back down to Earth.

Heather looked right at home on Centre Court on Monday and seems like someone who can cope with the stresses and strains of professional tennis. A third round clash with number three seed Agnieszka Radwańska could await...

Each day during the Wimbledon fortnight, Barry will be serving up his views. Check out his latest blog entry every morning on skysports.com

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