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By Andrew Jones | Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ryan Harrison, Donald Young

Fireworks flared following Ryan Harrison's win over Donald Young at the New York Open with Young charging his compatriot unleashed a racial taunt.

Photo credit: Tennis Channel Screen Grab

NEW YORK—It was always expected that passion and intensity would be the staple of another contest between former teenage prodigies Ryan Harrison and Donald Young Monday night at the inaugural New York Open.

But this usually emotional matchup received a new layer of ugliness in its latest installment, as Young accused Harrison of some form of verbal racism after the Texas native secured a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory at the Nassau Coliseum.

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As both players approached the net for the post-match handshake, Young barely looked at Harrison and only gave him a slight piece of his hand.

An incredulous Harrison barked a few words back at Young and, after shaking the chair umpire's hand, began to yell back and forth with his fellow American. The heated exchanged continued as Young walked off the court before Harrison stayed for the on-court interview.

Tennis Now interviewed the reigning Roland Garros doubles champion—Harrison partnered Michael Venus defeating Young and Santiago Gonzalez in the 2017 French Open final—after he walked off the court. Harrison did not go into specifics about what he and his adversary said to one another.

"We both started at a very young age on tour," Harrison said. "And we both have a lot of pressure and expectations on ourselves that we have been dealing with for a long time.I've been really fortunate to fought through a lot of the adversity. And Donald is, I feel, is trying to fight through the adversity. He's trying to break back into where he wants to be."

"At the end of the day, you're competitors out there. If that happens on the football field, everyone would laugh and just say, '15 yard penalty and move on.' But it is what it is, and you move forward and you try to take it in stride.

"I think everybody knows that, at the end of the day, you see everybody, you like everybody, you want to be friends and friendly with everybody. But everybody out here that I compete against, even the ones I like, they are the ones trying to take away from livelihood. And so I got to do what I can to try and get through. And I was proud of myself for doing that."

But Young, who wasn't in the media zone afterwards to talk to press, released a statement on Twitter that struck a different tone from what Harrison said. Young chastised his 25-year-old compatriot and implied that he stated something racist to him.

Young's girlfriend Valentina Lee, who was at the match, also took to Twitter and posted an alleged set of comments made by Harrison to her partner.

Harrison proceeded to go on his Twitter page and strongly deny Young's claims.

Tensions between Harrison and Young, despite them in the past playing doubles with each other, flared in the middle of the first set after Harrison held to go up 4-3. Cameras caught the two yelling at one another during the changeover and almost coming to blows trying to cross the net post to the other's side.

The chair umpire made sure to stand in the middle to prevent that from happening, as Harrison went on to break the up and down lefty in the next game and serve out the first set with an ace out wide.

Young then immediately called for a bathroom break as Harrison continued to argue with the chair umpire. The second set started off with the Atlanta native breaking himself with more erratic play in the opening game and Harrison seemingly destined for a routine win. But the world No. 43 began to get tight late in the set, as Young combined his always flashy shot making ability with needed stability to take a 5-4 lead.

Harrison, who is defending his lone maiden ATP title here after beating Young in the semifinals in route to winning at its former location in Memphis last year, recovered to easily hold and then break Young the following game to serve for the match.

But the former junior world number one was determined to remain in the tournament and impressively broke Harrison to force a second set tiebreak. After the pair split the first eight points, however, Young made another crucial error allowing Harrison to take the final three points and close out the match with another set ending ace.

Amazingly enough though, Harrison and Young's on-court drama potentially is not done for this week.

That is because they and their partners, Steve Johnson and Matthew Ebden respectively, could face each other in the second round of doubles at the New York Open.

If it occurs, it will literally and figuratively be double the drama.

Andrew Jones is a Brooklyn-based tennis writer covering the New York Open for Tennis Now. Please follow Andrew on Twitter.


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