American Harrison wins in Paris

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ROLAND GARROS – There was going to be an American champion regardless of the outcome of the men’s doubles final Saturday, with Ryan Harrison on one side and Donald Young on the other.

And in a dramatic final, it was Ryan Harrison and lifelong friend Michael Venus of New Zealand who won their first major title. They defeated Young and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3 in a match that featured no breaks of serve until the sixth game of the deciding set.

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Here’s what they looked like.

Venus, 29, moved to the U.S. from New Zealand when he was young and despite the difference in age, he and Harrison, 25, grew up playing together.

Harrison’s father Pat, now based out of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., remains Venus’s coach. Venus was a groomsman at Harrison’s March wedding to Lauren McHale.

“You always dream of winning a Grand Slam every time you’re playing as a kid. Idolize people you see winning Grand Slams. You picture yourself in those moments, and it kind of hasn’t really sunk in yet. Feels a little surreal,” Harrison said. “(Venus) was like a brother growing up. He taught me how to drive, taught me how to do a lot of things. Didn’t teach me how to talk to girls, one thing he didn’t teach me how to do.

“I can only think of one person that I also want to share this experience with one day, and I think that’s my brother (Christian). Hopefully we can have that opportunity again in the future,” he added.

A win with big implications

The victory and the 2,000 ranking points that come with it rocket the team from No. 54 in the doubles race to the ATP Tour Finals in London in November all the way to … No. 3.

There are two more Grand Slams and therefore two more 2,000-point gets to come this year, though. If they did get bumped out of the top eight, their doubles rankings would have to be in the top 20 for them to make it via the format’s “win a major” wild card.

Harrison and Venus hadn’t spoken about playing together going forward. They didn’t want to jinx anything as they were going through the tournament. But it likely will happen for the rest of the season. 

The American is mainly a singles guy and his focus on that this year has brought him back to the top 50 after years on the Challenger circuit, trying to get back to the career-best ranking he had in 2012.

But he says he’s not one of those guys who failed to give the doubles his full attention when he plays. So if he commits, he’s all in.

Harrison’s singles ranking stands at a career-high No. 42.

His doubles ranking after this effort should check in at No. 30 on Monday.

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