After previewing today’s second round clash between Jack Sock and John Isner, TTI continues to focus on the American men flying the flag in Basel. First up on Court 2, Donald Young has the unenviable task of dealing with big-serving Kevin Anderson in his second round match but excelled at the challenge. René Denfeld talked to the 26-year-old after one of his best wins of the season.
When Kevin Anderson serves at 60 percent first serves, a match usually goes his way — or at the very least, the distance. The fans on Court 2 in Basel today, however, saw a somewhat different scenario unfold as American Donald Young kept the big-serving South African at bay.
“For sure, I returned great today,” Young said. “You have to against someone with Kevin’s quality of serve, so that was key. Well, first was my serve and second was his but if I can return his serve, you know you always have a chance on yours, so [it] was good to return well.”
The first set got off to an ominous start for the American as he was broken by the No. 4 seed right out of the gates. The head start for Anderson didn’t last for long, as Young continued to put return after return back into court, drawing the World No. 12 into longer rallies much more often than he enjoyed, and breaking him three times to wrap up the set, 6-2. The second set remained on serve until 2-2 when an overrule from the chair saw Young get broken on the back of a double fault — much to the annoyance of the American. Where as a call like that would’ve seen the World No. 49 unravel in some of his previous matches, he was able to vent his anger but reset after the changeover.
“For sure that would’ve been a turning point to go really…his way,” Young said. “But I was able to stay composed — I was playing well and that really helped me come through.”
The set remained on serve and despite some nerves and double faults from both players in the second set tiebreak, the American was able to convert his fourth match point when Anderson’s backhand clipped the net and sailed wide.
Young and Anderson have met plenty of times — both on ATP and Challenger Tour level — so even though Young went into the match as the underdog on paper, he certainly had amassed enough data to gather a game plan and get an early read on Anderson’s serve.
“I played him quite a few times,” Young recalled, referencing the 5-6 head-to-head record he had against Anderson coming in. “Most of the matches have been tight, going back to 2007, [when he was] coming out of college [and] when I was 17 or 18 and we were playing Challengers. So we have a pretty long history.”
After upsetting the No. 4 seed, Young will play his first ATP 500-level quarterfinal of 2015. It’s been a year of some ups and downs for the American, but overall one of increased consistency — with a strong start and good second half of the season. Young’s march through to the US Open fourth round is the standout of his season, with his Grandstand match against Viktor Troicki at Flushing Meadows being particularly memorable.
“The whole start of the year was good for me,” Young said. “Memphis was a good start [where he lost to Anderson in the semifinals], Delray Beach was great and then the US Open was awesome. I mean I had a stretch in there that wasn’t great during that clay court and grass season but the summer went really well.”
With the 2015 season winding down, many players on both tours have recently admitted that they are starting to feel the exhaustion culminated as a result of many tournaments and a lot of traveling.
But Young? Not so much.
“I’m good actually — I’m not as tired cause I haven’t played as much as some of the other guys,” he said. “There was this stretch in there and I was losing quite early, [but] right now I’m feeling good. The body’s healthy and I’m looking forward to the offseason.”
As a part of his maturation on the tennis court in the past couple of years, Young has been particularly creative when it comes to turning what might be deemed inappropriate language into, well, more random, harmless vocabulary — and according to him, the trend is likely to continue as he continues his climb up the ATP rankings.
“Yeah, I’ve gotten into some trouble for those words before,” the American said with a chuckle. “I’m going to continue to try and use some words that don’t give me as much trouble, for sure.”
In tomorrow’s quarterfinal, Young will be facing fellow countryman Jack Sock, who defeated No. 6 seed John Isner in straight sets earlier on Thursday. When asked whether he had any preference as the all-American encounter between Isner and Sock, Young said he didn’t really have a clear favorite.
“Doesn’t really matter — either one of them is gonna be tough, y’know,” he assessed. “It’s gonna be kind of similar if John wins with the serve, and with Jack you’ve got a whole other set of weapons coming — and the serve as well. Just a little different trajectory.”
Young and Sock will face each other second on Centre Court not before 4 p.m. local time.