- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2012

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (AP) - Ryan Harrison moved closer to his first ATP Tour title Friday, advancing to the SAP Open semifinals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Bulgaria’s Dimitar Kutrovsky.

Fresh off his Davis Cup debut last weekend that helped the Americans sweep Switzerland, the 19-year-old Harrison hastily blew past Kutrovsky in 62 minutes. Harrison rallied from 2-0 down in the second set and took advantage of two calls overturned by replay to break Kutrovsky’s serve for the final time.

“To get out there today and have a match that lasted about an hour, it was a very good thing for me,” said Harrison, who has played three straight days since an almost 6,000-mile journey from Switzerland to the Bay Area.

Harrison will face defending tournament champion Milos Raonic on Saturday. The hard-serving Canadian defeated Kevin Anderson 7-5, 7-6 (3).

On the other side of the draw, Andy Roddick was scheduled to face Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan on Friday night. And Julien Benneteau of France was matched against Belgium’s Steve Darcis.

Standing in everybody’s way is a young American with some potent and promising power.

This is Harrison’s third career semifinal at an ATP event _ he lost to Mardy Fish both times last year in Atlanta and Los Angeles. He’s also the first teenager to reach the semifinals at San Jose since eventual champion Andy Murray in 2006 and 2007, and Harrison’s doing it all despite a body clock that’s out of whack.

Harrison arrived in the Bay Area this week after a flight through nine time zones. The jet-lagged right-hander, whose straight sets victory over Michael Lammer gave the U.S. its fourth victory in a 5-0 sweep of Switzerland Sunday, also had to adjust from clay to indoor courts and a ball that doesn’t have quite the same pop.

No problem.

A night after outlasting Robbie Ginepri in a third-set tiebreaker, Harrison had the first afternoon match Friday. Turns out, he was thankful for the day-time spot.

Harrison has been going to sleep about 8 p.m. and waking up at 5 a.m. local time. When the Ginepri match went to a third set, he was so tired he chugged a soda his trainer handed him just for a caffeine boost.

“I was about to fall asleep out there I was so tired,” Harrison said.

A night of rest made all the difference.

Harrison connected on 73 percent of his first serves and pushed the pace against the two-handed Kutrovsky, a qualifier who tried every trick he could for an upset. With Kutrovky up 2-0 in the second set, Harrison noticed his opponent moving in from the baseline and shuffling his feet before Harrison served.

“My mind ticks in a very competitive way on court,” Harrison said. “So when I see something like that, it’s kind of like, `OK, you’re going to do that? You’re not winning.’”

Harrison won six of the final eight games and had some help from technology inside the Silicon Valley arena that’s home to the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.

Kutrovsky served an ace at 4-all, 30-all, and Harrison challenged. The shot was overruled out, Harrison won a long rally and then challenged a passing shot by Kutrovsky on the following point that the line judge missed. The replay revealed the ball sailed wide left, Harrison earned the break and cruised to victory on his service game.

Harrison already had caught a major break this week.

Top-seed Gael Monfils of France withdrew from his second-round match because of inflammation in his right knee. Kutrovsky defeated his replacement, Blake Strode, and now Harrison is just two matches away from his first tour title after topping Kutrovsky in straight sets.

The semifinals will also be a rematch from a more famous California tournament. Harrison beat Ranoic 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 in the third round at Indian Wells last year.


Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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