On Wednesday, Christian Harrison defeated 18-year-old American wildcard Zane Khan 6-1, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (4) in the Delray Beach qualifiers to enter the main draw of a tour-level event for the first time since 2018. It may be a routine result on the face of it, but for Harrison, who hasn’t given up on his tennis dreams despite eight surgeries, it was another milestone on a long and arduous journey.
Christian, younger brother of Ryan Harrison, has overcome a bone infection, eight surgeries, including operations on both legs, both hips, his right wrist, and both adductors.
“I would say it’s at least six comebacks, I think, where I’ve missed more than six months at a time,” the 26-year-old told Atptour.com. “I’ve never really put it all on paper… I just think it was determination that kept me going.”
As a teenager, Christian was touted to become even more successful than his brother Ryan. And while as Ryan reached a career-high of No 40 in 2017, Christian spent most of his time in hospitals meeting doctors.
“In a doctor’s office, you get terrible news and the things you took for granted (assuming you can play tennis forever) are no longer a given,” says Christian.
“Life is tough. You take the simple things for granted.
“I had high expectations during my teenage years, but then things are taken away from you and you want to go back and prove yourself, make a career doing what you love.
“That’s what I want right now. To do well enough to keep playing and have a healthy career and make a living doing what I love.”
Christian Harrison’s latest comeback bid started in September as the tour resumed from the six-month hiatus due to Coronavirus. Having reached a career high of 198 in 2018, he is currently placed at 789 on the ATP charts.
Even though Christian is still dreaming of breaking into the upper echelons of the game, he is keeping things in perspective.
“Worse things can happen (than losing a tennis match),” he says. “You always remember that.”
The American will take on Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the first round of the season-opening ATP 250 event in Delray Beach.