SPORTS

Harrison, Sweeting win at Legg Mason Tennis Classic; Gonzalez withdraws

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WASHINGTON (AP) - For quite some time, U.S. tennis fans have wondered when the next top American man would emerge. Two players who hope to fill those shoes - Ryan Harrison and Ryan Sweeting - won first-round matches Tuesday at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

The 19-year-old Harrison extended his strong showing on the U.S. summer hard-court circuit by overcoming 10 double-faults to beat Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. Sweeting, who turned 24 a little more than two weeks ago, defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-2, 6-4 in an all-American matchup.

They'll get much tougher tests in the next round. Harrison will face No. 3-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia, while Sweeting takes on top-seeded Gael Monfils of France.

"I've never played him before, but obviously I've seen a lot of his matches, and I know what he's about. He's one of the most talented guys on the tour; definitely the fastest person I've ever seen - in most sports," Sweeting said.

"I'm going to have to try and finish points at the net," Sweeting explained, "because if I just stay back, then he's just going to run for days and make me look like an idiot."

In other matches Tuesday, Tommy Haas beat late fill-in Amer Delic 6-2, 6-3, Flavio Cipolla defeated Marsel Ilhan 7-5, 6-0, and Michael Berrer eliminated Paolo Lorenzi 7-5, 6-1.

Delic lost in qualifying but got a spot in the main draw when 2007 Australian Open runner-up Fernando Gonzalez withdrew from the tournament, citing a bad knee, a couple of hours before he was to play Haas.

"There was a little bit of an adjustment," said Haas, once ranked as high as No. 2 but now 576th as he works his way back from right hip surgery.

"I don't really know still exactly where I'm at with my game," said Haas, who spoke about trying to decide whether he wants to extend his career for another six months or two years.

Sweeting is ranked 66th this week, one spot below his career high, which he reached in May, a month after winning his first ATP title at Houston on clay.

Harrison, meanwhile, reached the semifinals at his past two tournaments, in Atlanta and Los Angeles, to lift his ranking to a career-best 82nd.

He began playing tennis at 2, and was able to hit the ball over the net by the age of 3 - and, Harrison noted, his family has the home video to prove it.

Harrison is supremely confident, on the court and off. When he was asked Tuesday where he envisions himself in two or three years, Harrison paused every so briefly before answering: "Grand Slam champion. Multiple Grand Slam champion."

No American man has won a major title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open, a 31-tournament drought that's the country's longest.

"We hear what people say about Americans, and us being lazy," Harrison said, then added that the current crop of up-and-comers such as himself and Sweeting are "proving that's not true."

Against the 115th-ranked Zverev, Harrison closed the first set by breaking serve with a running forehand passing winner down the line. After hitting the shot, Harrison stumbled and fell to the court; when he sat in his changeover chair, he flexed and shook his right hand.

He slumped in the second set, getting broken in the opening game when he sailed a forehand long. "It just got away from me really quickly," Harrison said, "and I started getting physically drained."

Quickly enough, though, he turned the momentum back his way in the third set, taking a 4-0 lead. "I was really happy with the way my body responded in the third set," said Harrison, who travels with a personal trainer.

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