Friday, September 2, 2011
Updated: September 3, 9:13 AM ET
Donald Young a problem child no more
By Greg Garber
NEW YORK -- For years, those who dealt with him at the USTA would complain that their problem child didn't train hard enough and, as a result, did not have the stamina nor strength to play with the elite ATP World Tour players.
For the past year, though, Donald Young has quietly worked hard to change that. Earlier this year, he beat Andy Murray at Indian Wells, an important milestone in his so-far-disappointing professional career arc. This summer he reached his first ATP World Tour semifinal, in Washington.
Friday, Young faced Stanislas Wawrinka, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open a year ago, and captured the most important victory of his career.
That it required 4 hours, 20 minutes and was his first five-set victory ever -- 7-6 (7), 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) -- was surprising enough, but the fact Young won seven of eight points in that final tiebreaker bordered on astonishing.
And what did he say, almost breathless, after it was over on rowdy Court 17?
"I just started relying on my fitness," he said. "I didn't know I could go that long."
Hard to believe Young is only 22 -- the age of a typical college senior. It was six years ago that he finished the 2005 season as the ITF's youngest-ever top-ranked junior -- the same year George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term as the 43rd U.S. president.
What followed was an ugly, on-again, off-again relationship with the USTA. Young made headlines in April with an expletive-laced tweet, ripping the USTA for not extending him a wild card for the French Open. He apologized, of course, and, oddly enough, received a wild card for the U.S. Open.
"I've grown a lot the last few years," Young said. "I've learned from all those mistakes. Everybody's light comes on at a different time, and I feel like mine's coming on."
Young, who came back from a two-set deficit, was by far the more poised and patient player in the ultimate set that ran 1 hour, 13 minutes. He placed the ball safely in the court, and more often than not, Wawrinka obliged with an error, particularly on the forehand side. Wawrinka had 72 unforced errors, but only four more than Young.
When Wawrinka held at 6-5 in the fifth, the old Donald Young might have reacted differently.
"I would have let it go and say, 'Oh, well,' and lost 7-5," Young said.
Instead, he watched as Wawrinka imploded and Young crushed him in the tiebreaker. He is not gifted with massive weapons, but he is a clever, intuitive player. Young was aggressive, too, working his way to net 56 times, winning 37 points -- the decisive difference.
Thus, Young reaches the third round at the U.S. Open for the second time. Although he lost to Feliciano Lopez here four years ago, this is a different player. He'll meet Juan Ignacio Chela for a slot in the fourth round, a match he is capable of winning.
"Chela?" Young said. "Awesome. He beat me 6-0 in the third at New Haven. Hopefully [I'll] get some payback."
Soaring confidence: John Isner is listed at 6-foot-9, but he was walking a little taller after beating fellow American Robby Ginepri 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round.
His confidence, he said, is as high as it's ever been.
"I don't like to think too much about it, but I have won seven matches in a row now," Isner said. "I'm just winning a lot of matches and I'm very, very confident and I feel good."
Moving on: After grinding for three sets and more than two and-one-half hours against lucky qualifying loser Rogerio Dutra Da Silva, Alex Bogomolov Jr. unleashed a particularly forceful screaming fist-pump.
He had reason to be thrilled; his 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 victory launched him into the third round of a major for the second consecutive time.
After losing 10 of his 11 Grand Slam singles matches over the years, Bogomolov has now won four of his last five. The 28-year-old from Miami, dogged by injuries and doubts, missed more than five years of Grand Slams from the 2006 Australian Open to this year's French Open.
Bogomolov next plays big-serving John Isner. Bogomolov is 0-2 against Isner; they played in the quarterfinals ealier this summer in Newport.
Americans James Blake and Irina Falconi were among the losers Friday.
Hi-yo, Silva! He was a lucky loser in qualifying, discovering that he was replacing Robin Soderling 20 minutes before his scheduled first-round match. And when he won, the USTA listed his name as Rogerio Dutra Da Silva. It still appears that way on the draw sheet, but it's wrong. When he filled out the player information sheet he told officials there was no "Da."
|Donald Young is a win away from his first fourth-round appearance at any Slam. |
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.