It Wasn’t a Fluke …                                                  Young Into Semis at Citi Open

By Jane Voigt (August 1, 2014)

Washington D.C. — The boy who cried wolf comes to mind went thinking about Donald Young. 

Over and over telling himself, his parents (his coaches), his sponsors that he’d change, the wins are around the corner. They're coming. Then more disappointment, a stinky attitude on court, fans finished with their support of a kid they could have gotten behind had he tried, done something different … leave his parents, which he did, but that didn’t pan out either. 

But here at Citi Open, Young says ‘it’s clicking.’ That he is better prepared to ride the match instead of fight it.  

“It’s something I’ve been working on for a good part of the year,” he said today, and had said after winning his prior round here in Rock Creek Park. “But it’s starting to show itself more here. I’m having a chance to put it to work. It’s coming out, and it’s working in my favor.”

God love you, Donald Young. Stay with it! 

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Donald Young celebrates his quarterfinal win over Kevin Anderson this afternoon at Citi Open, Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C. Photo credit Pablo Sanfrancisco, tennisclix.com

“It’s a work in progress,” he said, when asked about his poor court attitude. “I still slip back once in a while but more so than not I’m being more positive. I think it’s the only way. I’ve tried being negative and it doesn’t work.”

Young acknowledged that top players maintain a positive presence. “They fight and focus the whole time,” he began. “Even if they lose you know they’re not going away. They stay there and compete. That’s what I want to start doing.”

Today, Young defeated Kevin Anderson, the No. 7 seed for the week and the current No. 21 on the ATP tour. The win was only Young’s second win over a top-25 player, but his third tour semifinal. 

Young came from a set down to defeat Anderson, another big-serving, big-forhand guy here this week. But Young turned the tables in the second set tieback and won 36 76(3) 62.

“When I got up in the tiebreak I felt the tide turn a little bit, and I took advantage of it.”

But when a bit of rain came down, up a break in the third, he was a bit worried. 

“Yeah, I didn’t want it to rain. I wanted to keep going. I was putting the right pressure on him.” 

Young’s serving percentage improved as the second and third sets progressed. He said he regrouped and slowed down. “I went back to the basics and my comfortable patterns.”

Next week, Young will move into the top 50. He hasn’t breathed that air for some time. At the end of January, 2013, he neared No. 200. A year ago he was ranked 155. 

“I’m just believing a little more, staying in the matches a little more, not tapping out if something goes against me. Hopefully I can keep it going.”

Young wanted to play Steve Johnson in the semifinals tomorrow, but the USC graduate lost to Milos Raonic, the two-seed and highest ranking player remaining in the draw, 76(2) 62. Now Young’s the last American standing in a tournament that has touted and then lost some of the tallest and biggest servers in the game: John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Kevin Anderson, and the number-one seed, Tomas Berdych. 

Young and Raonic have never competed on tour. The Canadian is one of the hottest commodities in the tennis world right now, too. He’ll arrive in Toronto early next week for the first of two back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, a hero in his home town. He’ll want to touch down a champion. 

Raonic is six-four and serves lights. And, he is more consistent and experienced at big tournaments. He reached his first semifinal at Wimbledon a little over a month ago, losing to Roger Federer. He had never gone beyond the second round in four appearances. 

Yet this is the United States and the only ATP 500-level tournament in the country. 

“I like playing in the states,” Young said. “It helps a lot. Everything is comfortable in the states.” 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013