(Makes clear in third para that Blake has not yet played his first-round match)
HOUSTON, Texas, April 16 (Reuters) - Fifteen-year-old Ryan Harrison has set his sights on an upset victory over fellow American James Blake to keep his dream run alive at this week’s U.S. Clay Court Championships.
The qualifier is on course to face the world number nine in Thursday’s second round after joining Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Frenchman Richard Gasquet as the only players since 1990 to win ATP matches under the age of 16.
Before that, though, top-seeded Blake must win his opening match against Japanese wildcard Kei Nishikori later on Wednesday.
“I feel like I have a good chance,” Harrison said of his prospects against Blake, a winner of 10 ATP career titles.
“If I play at the level that I played two days ago, then I have a chance for a win.”
Texan resident Harrison stunned Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-4 6-3 in Monday’s first round, having lost just eight games in qualifying wins over Phillip King and Alex Reichel.
“The pressure is on them (the top players) to win against me I guess,” added Harrison, replying to on-line questions on ESPN Sport’s Web site (www.espn.go.com).
“There isn’t a whole lot of pressure on me. I just go out there and play.”
Harrison was delighted to qualify in Houston on his ATP debut.
”That was my main goal,“ he said. ”After that, I wanted to play as well as I can. I always feel I can beat anybody that I play.
”I am comfortable on clay so it wasn’t something that I was bothered by,“ Harrison added, referring to his surprise victory over 95th-ranked Cuevas. ”I knew it was a match that I could go out there and win so I played as hard as I could.
Aged 15 years, 11 months and seven days, Harrison broke Cuevas three times in the opening set on Monday before sweeping to victory in just under an hour.
“It feels really good to have the whole experience and it also feels good to have people looking up to you,” he added.
“But as much as I‘m enjoying this...My upcoming goal is to beat my next opponent.” (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Clare Lovell)