Donald Young proved doubters wrong last season.
It began with an upset win over then world No. 5 Andy Murray at the 2011 Indian Wells Masters. Then came a series of career highs as Young reached his first ATP semifinals in Washington, D.C., had a fourth round showing at the U.S. Open, and played in his maiden ATP final in Bangkok. After struggling on the ATP Tour, it appeared that Young was on his way to fulfill the potential he showed during his extremely successful junior career.
But despite the momentum heading into the new season and reaching a career high No. 38 in February, the 22-year-old Young is struggling to repeat the success in 2012.
In the nine tournaments Young has played this year he has only gone past the first round twice – at the Australian Open and at Memphis, losing both in the second round. His latest loss came at the hands of world No. 352 Paul-Henri Mathieu, losing 6-0, 6-1 in the first round at the Monte Carlo Masters. It was his fifth consecutive loss to a lower ranked player.
At No. 50 in the world, Young is the fourth ranked American and is still in a position to turn around his sub-par season. And if the 2011 U.S. Open was any indication, American tennis fans are eager to see Young succeed. With each victory in Flushing Meadows, the crowds for Young grew increasing boisterous and spirited. Young, who often exhibits negative body language during his matches, seemed to be on an upward trajectory and the American player to watch. That distinction now belongs to 26-year-old John Isner, who at No. 9 in the world is the top ranked American.
With Young, the coaching question is never far. After accepting an increased role from the USTA coaches last season, Young decided to go back to being coached by his mother Ilona in late 2011. As of now, there is no indication Young will be making any coaching changes.
Young may have proved his skeptics wrong last season, and as a result played with confidence befitting his talents, but he must find his game quickly before the doubts and doubters begin creeping up again.
Monte Carlo Masters
The 2008 French Open draw is now available! Full draws can be found at event’s official website – www.rolandgarros.com. Agence France Presse report on the draw is as follows:
PARIS (AFP) – Birthday boy Novak Djokovic, the best player in the world in 2008, emerged the big winner after the French Open draw placed a succession of booby traps in the paths of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Federer’s bid to win a first Roland Garros title faces a testing start against big American Sam Querrey.
He could then face a tricky fourth round date with Argentinian claycourter Juan Monaco before a possible quarter-final match-up with the likes of either fast-rising compatriot Stanilas Wawrinka, the ninth seed, or French eighth seed Richard Gasquet. Spanish claycourt specialists Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2002 champion, fifth seed David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo are all possible semi-final opponents for Federer who is desperate to add an elusive French Open title to his collection of 12 Grand Slams. Federer, who has lost to Nadal in the last two finals, will face a confident Querrey. The 20-year-old is riding high after capturing his maiden career title in Las Vegas this year.
Querrey also showed that he is no fool on clay when he reached the quarter-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters in April knocking out former French Open winner Carlos Moya on the way. But Nadal, who is bidding to become the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1981 to win four titles in a row here, was the biggest loser in the draw.
The Spaniard, who has a perfect record at Roland Garros of 21 wins in 21 matches, begins his campaign against a qualifier with a possible tricky quarter-final against David Nalbandian. Nadal has lost both his career meetings with the muscular Argentininan.
The 21-year-old, fresh from deposing Federer as Hamburg champion last week for his eighth win in nine claycourt meetings with the Swiss, faces an array of possible problems in the early rounds.
Compatriots and claycourt specialists Nicolas Almagro, seeded 19, and 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco, as well as British 10th seed Andy Murray, could stand in his way.
Australian Open and Rome Masters champion Djokovic could face Nadal in the semi-finals. He starts against Germany’s Denis Gremelmayr, the world 63, with America’s James Blake a probable last eight opponent. In between, Djokovic, who turned 21 on Thursday, should be untroubled with just 1998 champion Moya a potential problem in the third round. Former triple champion Gustavo Kuerten, who will be playing his last match before retirement, faces a tricky opener against French 18th seed Paul-Henri Mathieu.
Women’s top seed Maria Sharapova, bidding to win a first French Open and complete a career Grand Slam, begins her campaign against fellow Russian Evgeniya Rodina, the world number 104. Second seed Serbian Ana Ivanovic, the runner-up to Justine Henin in 2007, faces Sweden’s Sofia Andersson while 2002 champion Serena Williams starts against fellow American Ashley Harkelroad. Henin, the champion here for the last three years, recently announced her retirement from the game, a decision which has thrown open the women’s draw. Sharapova, a semi-finalist in 2007 and the new world number one could face compatriot and 2004 runer-up Elena Demetieva in the quarter-finals with fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova a potential semi-final opponent. Third seed Jelena Jankovic begins against a qualifier with French hopes Amelie Mauresmo and Alize Cornet also in her section.
Venus Williams, runner-up to her sister in 2002, is seeded eight and could face Jankovic in the last eight. Serena is a possible quarter-final opponent for Ivanovic.
Not everyone just gets handed a sweaty shirt worn by Nole Djokovic (yes, some of us actually have to bid for it). But in the spirit of sportsmanship — and perhaps making a political statement — Croat Ivan Ljubicic and the Serbian exchanged shirts after their match at the Masters Series Monte Carlo last week. Consider this a “carbon offset” to the mouth of Djokovic and his camp, which has been recently spewing lots of hot air (none of which is directed to his old pal Andy Murray, of course…).
Rafael Nadal won his first title of 2008 and his fourth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters, defeating Roger Federer 7-5 7-5.
Nuria Llagostera Vives won both of her singles and teamed up to capture the doubles and lead Spain over China 4-1 and into the Fed Cup World Group finals.
Vera Zvonareva beat Vania King to clinch the Fed Cup World Group semifinals victory as Russia beat the United States 3-2.
Marcelo Rios beat Michael Stich 6-3 6-3 to win the BlackRock Champions Cup in Barcelona, Spain.
“Winning four times here is unimaginable.” – Rafael Nadal, who became the first player to win four straight titles at Monte Carlo since Anthony Wilding of New Zealand did it from 1911-14.
“He deserves to win. I’m pushing Rafa today, having the feeling I can beat him if I play the right way. That’s the feeling I didn’t have after (Monte Carlo) last year.” – Roger Federer after his 7-5 7-5 loss to Rafael Nadal for the Monte Carlo Masters title.
“I knew I could do it, but there were times when I wondered.” – Robert Dee, who finally won his first professional match after 54 consecutive losses.
“It was my first match on red clay in almost two years. That’s why I was a little nervous at the start of the match.” – Vera Zvonareva, who beat Vania King 4-6 6-3 6-2 to give Russia an insurmountable 3-0 lead over the United States in their Fed Cup semifinal.
“I felt really sorry. I really didn’t want to lose.” – Peng Shuai, after losing 6-4 6-4 to Nuria Llagostera Vives as Spain clinched its Fed Cup semifinal victory over China.
“We knew we could win the tie, but we never expected to win three matches in a row.” – Nuria Llagostera Vives on Spain’s Fed Cup semifinal win.
“It’s not worth it. I’m just 20 years old. Still a lot of time, a lot of tournaments to come.” – Novak Djokovic, on how he felt it was too risky to continue his semifinal match against Roger Federer because of dizziness and a sore throat.
“Physically I was tired. That’s why next week is good. I don’t play any tournament.” – Nikolay Davydenko, who is taking a week off before playing in the Rome Masters.
“It’s still enjoyable. It’s nice to play the tournaments again where I have such great memories of what’s happened in the past.” – Gustavo Kuerten, after losing in the opening round of the Monte Carlo Masters. Kuerten is on a farewell tour which will culminate at the Roland Garros.
“We should have both (Maria) Sharapova and (Svetlana) Kuznetsova in the lineup. I might even have them play doubles together.” – Russian captain Shamil Tarpishchev, talking about who might play for his team at the Fed Cup finals in September against Spain.
Rafael Nadal joined Jim Courier as the only players in ATP Masters Series history to win both the singles and doubles at the same event. Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5 7-5 for the singles title, and teamed with fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo to down Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-3 6-3 for the doubles crown. Nadal is the first player to win both titles at Monte Carlo since Ilie Nastase in 1973. Courier won both titles in an ATP Masters Series tournament in 1991 at Indian Wells, California.
SUCCESS – FINALLY
Robert Dee walked off the tennis court a winner after 54 consecutive defeats. The Briton defeated Arzhang Derakhshani of the United states 6-4 6-3 in qualifying for a Futures tournament in Reus, near Barcelona in Spain. Dee’s 54-match losing streak was the worst since Diego Beltranena of Guatemala also lost 54 straight matches between 1997 and 2005, although Beltranena at least managed to win a set. Until his victory over Derakhshani, Dee had played 108 sets – losing them all – since turning pro.
SUCH A PAYDAY
The payout at Roland Garros this year will be more than 15.5 million euros, an increase of more than 2 percent from last year. With equal prize money again awaiting men and women, the champions will each pocket one million euros. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) said the biggest prize money increases are in the wheelchair events where the total prize money available is 60 percent higher than in 2007.
When Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko reached the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters, it marked the first time since Roland Garros in 2006 that the world’s top four ranked players were in the semifinals of the same tournament. It is the first time since the ATP Rankings began in 1973 that the top four-ranked players were semifinalists at Monte Carlo.
STOPPING THE BOMB
Frenchman Gael Monfils pulled off a unique feat in his 7-6 (8) 6-1 win over huge-serving Ivo Karlovic at the Monte Carlo Masters. Monfils didn’t concede a single ace against the 6-foot-10 Croatian. It was the first time in his career that Karlovic had failed to serve at least one ace in the match.
A record number of visitors checked out the Davis Cup web site as the nations played quarterfinals on April 11-13. The official site of the event, www.daviscup.com, recorded 4,568,701 page views, a 35 percent increase on the quarterfinals weekend in 2007. The total number of visitor sessions also saw a 39 percent rise from the previous year.
Clarisa Fernandez, who upset Kim Clijsters en route to the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2002, is calling it quits because of knee injuries. The lefthander from Argentina played her first professional tournament at an ITF event in Buenos Aires in 1997. She was ranked as high as number 26 in the world before undergoing surgeries in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Donald Young, the youngest player ranked in the ATP Top 100, will work out at Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. It is one of the first examples of the USTA Elite Player Development’s new collaborative approach with top coaches and private academies in a bid to develop the next generation of American champions. The USTA also announced that three top junior prospects – 12-year-old Sachia Vickery, 12-year-old of Victoria Duval and 9-year-old Alicia Black – will be working with Bollettieri.
Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, two of America’s top three players, will skip the Beijing Olympics, opting instead for a U.S. Open tuneup event. Roddick will defend his title and Fish will join him at the ATP Washington Classic, which will be played August 9-17 opposite the Olympic men’s tennis tournament. Fish was a silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Spain being in the Fed Cup final is no surprise. Peng Shuai losing three matches and Spain crushing China 4-1 in the semifinal at Beijing are shockers. Peng was the highest ranked singles player in the competition, ranked number 68 in the world. She and Sun Tian Tian are ranked ninth in the world in doubles. Instead, Nuria Llagostera Vives won three matches, teaming with Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the doubles, while Carla Suarez-Navarro, ranked number 132 in the world, beat Peng in straight sets.
Russia will have Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova for its Fed Cup final against Spain in September. Sharapova made her Fed Cup debut against Israel in February and won both of her singles matches to lead Russia to a 4-1 quarterfinal victory. Svetlana Kuznetsova led Russia to a 3-2 win over the United States in semifinal play. Against Spain, Russia could field both Sharapova and Kuznetsova, who are ranked third and fourth in world, respectively.
BoscoSport, a Russian sporting goods company, is the new official clothing sponsor of Fed Cup. It will outfit the linespeople and ball kids at all Fed Cup ties. BoscoSport has been the official Russian Olympic team outfitter since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games and is also the outfitter of the Russian Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams.
Bud Collins has written a new book about tennis. The writer, historian and Tennis Hall of Fame member has written The Bud Collins History of Tennis, which is due in bookstores later this spring in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and is available now with internet retailers. Collins’ achievements include being the recipient of the ATP’s 2007 Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award.
Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-3 6-3.
SCORING FED CUP
World Group Playoffs
Italy beat Ukraine 3-2; France beat Japan 4-1; Argentina beat Germany 3-2; Czech Republic beat Israel 3-2
World Group II Playoffs
Belgium beat Colombia 5-0; Switzerland beat Austria 3-2; Slovak Republic beat Uzbekistan 5-0; Serbia beat Croatia 3-2
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$824,000 Open Sabadell Atlantico 2008, Barcelona, Spain, clay
$370,000 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay
$145,000 Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Fes, Morocco, clay
$145,000 ECM Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay
$150,000 Outback Champions Cup Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$2,270,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$1,340,000 Qatar Telecom German Open, Berlin, Germany, clay
BlackRock Tour of Champions Rome, clay