Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ex-prodigy tries to rebound after nightmarish year

   SAN JOSE -- In 2005, Donald Young debuted on the ATP World Tour in the SAP Open as the Great American Hope. He was 15 years old.
   Eight years later, Young is still looking for his first ATP title and trying to bounce back from a nightmarish 2012. As a qualifier, he lost to fellow American Michael Russell on Wednesday in the first round of the SAP Open for the second straight year, 6-3, 7-5.
   The 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter), 155-pound (70-kilogram) Russell, who will turn 35 in May, saved five set points in the second set. Several came on spectacular shots.
   "Some shots, I don't know how they went in, but I'll take it," he said.
   Young was erratic, showing the gifted hands that fellow left-hander John McEnroe once compared to his own, but also making too many errors in the match and converting only 43 percent of his first serves in the second set.
   "Credit to Mike for playing well," said Young, ranked No. 202. "I didn't take advantage of my opportunities."
Second-seeded John Isner waits to return serve against Vasek
Pospisil in the second round of the SAP Open in San Jose.
Photo by Paul Bauman

   Second-seeded John Isner, the top-ranked American at No. 16 in the world, defeated Vasek Pospisil of Canada 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3 in a second-round match at night. Isner, 6-foot-9 (2.06 meters), drew a bye in the first round.
   Speaking of nightmares, Isner flew economy class from Tampa, Fla., to San Jose. Not surprisingly, he complained of a sore back.
   "I was supposed to fly first class, but the plane from Newark was late, and I had to give up my seat," Isner said. "I took a window seat because the cart is always bumping me on the aisle. It was a 6 a.m. flight, and I must have slept in an awkward position."
   A few weeks before Young's ATP debut, he won the Australian Open junior title to become youngest-ever and first African-American boy to be ranked No. 1 in the world. The prodigy then lost to American veteran Robby Ginepri 6-2, 6-2 in the first round at San Jose.
  Young struggled for years on the ATP circuit and in tennis' minor leagues. What went wrong? You name it:
   --Bad management decisions. Because his family needed the money, Young turned pro at the preposterous age of 14 and accepted wild cards into ATP tournaments. He promptly got pummeled, shattering his confidence.
   "Growing up, I won all the time," Young said. "The pros are not like the juniors, but the more matches you win, the better you feel."
   --Questionable coaching. Young has relied on his parents rather than more accomplished coaches.
   --Bad attitude. Young has gotten frustrated easily during his career.
   --Bad work ethic. This is the curse of being highly talented. It's tempting to say, "I don't need to work hard."
   --Insufficient power. Young is listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), and finesse doesn't cut it these days.   
   Young nevertheless reached a career-high No. 38 in the world last February, but then came 16 consecutive losses. He finished 5-24 on the ATP tour last year and won one match on the Challenger circuit.
   "I've put 2012 out of my mind," Young said. "I've already won more matches this year than I did last year. I couldn't really tell you what happened. I started losing, and it spiraled downward."
   Young has won seven matches this year, all in qualifying. Wednesday's encounter was his season debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam or ATP tournament. It was also his first match in three weeks after retiring at 0-4 with the flu against Russell in the first round of the Maui Challenger.
   "I'm playing better, but it will take a little while to get over the hump," Young said.
   Russell agreed that Young is rebounding.
   "I definitely think he's playing a lot better," said Russell, who improved to 7-3 against Young and earned a meeting against top seed and two-time defending champion Milos Raonic on Thursday at 7 p.m. "His forehand has a lot more whip on it, and he's serving better. He'll be a lot closer to the top hundred at the end of the year, if not in the top hundred."
   Young once dreamed of winning Grand Slam titles. His goals are much more modest now.
   "My goals are to win 10 matches in February, get back in the top 50 and win my first title," he said.
In San Jose
First-round singles
   Alejandro Falla, Colombia, def. Flavio Cipolla, Italy, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (10).
   Matthew Ebden, Australia, def. Rik de Voest, South Africa, 6-2, 7-5.
   Michael Russell, United States, def. Donald Young, United States, 6-3, 7-5.
   Steve Johnson, United States, def. Ivo Karlovic, Croatia, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (6).
   Tommy Haas (4), Germany, def. Jesse Levine, Canada, 6-3, 6-1.
Second-round singles
   John Isner (2), United States, def. Vasek Pospisil, Canada, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3.   
First-round doubles
   Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic, Australia, def. Philipp Marx, Germany, and Florin Mergea, Romania, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 10-2 tiebreak.
   Denis Istomin, Uzbekistan, and Mikhail Elgin, Russia, def. Nicholas Monroe, United States, and Simon Stadler, Germany, 6-4, 6-4.
   Xavier Malisse, Belgium, and Frank Moser (4), Germany, def. Jamie Murray, Great Britain, and John Peers, Australia, 6-4, 6-4.
Thursday's schedule
Center Court
(Beginning at 9:30 a.m.)
   Benjamin Becker, Germany, vs. Denis Istomin (6), Uzbekistan.
   Alejandro Falla, Colombia, vs. Marinko Matosevic (7), Australia.
   Xavier Malisse (8), Belgium, vs. Matthew Ebden, Australia.
   Tim Smyczek, United States, vs. Steve Johnson, United States.
   Sam Querrey (3), United States, vs. Lleyton Hewitt, Australia.
 (Not before 7 p.m.)
   Milos Raonic (1), Canada, vs. Michael Russell, United States.
   Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (1), United States, vs. Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic, Australia.
   Matthew Ebden, Australia, and Michael Russell, United States, vs. Xavier Malisse, Belgium, and Frank Moser (4), Germany. 
Courtside Club 16
(Beginning at 4 p.m.)
   Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico and Scott Lipsky (3), United States, vs. Mikhail Elgin, Russia, and Denis Istomin, Uzbekistan.
   Alejandro Falla and Robert Farah, Colombia, vs. Rik de Voest, South Africa, and Tommy Haas, Germany.
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 29 in singles (-1), No. 77 in doubles (-3).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012, resident of Folsom in the Sacramento area -- No. 1,062 in doubles (-1), No. 1,502 in singles (+2).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 2 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 32 in singles (-2), unranked in doubles.
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 159 in doubles (-22), unranked in singles.
   Artem Ilyushin, resident of Granite Bay in the Sacramento area -- No. 1,100 in singles (no change), No. 1,510 in doubles (+1).
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 223 in singles (-1), No. 475 in doubles (+47).
   Alex Kuznetsov, Capitals (2012) -- No. 255 in singles (+12), No. 189 in doubles (+30).
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 30 in doubles (-2), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 20 in singles (no change), No. 41 in doubles (no change).
   Ryan Sweeting, Capitals (2012) -- No. 156 in singles (+6), No. 850 in doubles (+237).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 549 in doubles (-1), No. 977 in singles (-1).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 117 in singles (no change), No. 289 in doubles (-6).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- Career-high No. 468 in singles (+3), No. 552 in doubles (no change).
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 126 in singles (+20), No. 366 in doubles (+67). 
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 28 in doubles (no change), No. 117 in singles (-12).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- Career-high No. 13 in doubles (no change), No. 1,113 in singles (no change).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- Career-high No. 148 in doubles (+17), No. 435 in singles (+6).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 114 in singles (+5), No. 114 in doubles (+2).
   Yasmin Schnack, resident of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 192 in doubles (-19), No. 761 in singles (-95).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 460 in singles (+4), No. 1,106 in doubles (+5).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 99 in singles (+3), No. 350 in doubles (+143).
(All times PST)
   Thursday --  Rotterdam (men), round of 16, Tennis Channel, 2-8 a.m. (live), 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (live), 2:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (repeat).
   Friday -- Rotterdam (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 3:30-7:30 a.m. (live), 7:30-9:30 a.m. (repeat), 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (live). Doha (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 2:30-6:30 p.m. (delay), 8:30-10:30 p.m. (repeat). Sao Paolo (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (delay). 
   Saturday -- Rotterdam (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5-7:30 a.m. (live), 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (live). Doha (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 7:30-9:30 a.m. (delay), 3-5 p.m. (delay). San Jose (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 1-3 p.m. (live), 8:30-10:30 p.m. (live). Sao Paolo (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5-7 p.m. (delay).
   Sunday -- Rotterdam (men), final, Tennis Channel, 5:30-8 a.m. (live), 5-7:30 p.m. (repeat). Doha (women), final, 8-10 a.m. (delay), 7:30-9:30 p.m. (repeat). Sao Paolo (men), final, Tennis Channel, 1-3 p.m. (delay).
   Through Sunday -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
   March 4-17 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   April 23-28 -- Pac-12 Men's and Women's Championships, Ojai Valley Athletic Club/Libbey Park, Ojai,
   April 25-28 -- Big West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Indian Wells Tennis Garden,
   April 26-28 -- Big Sky Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif.,
   May 10-11 -- NCAA Men's and Women's Team Championships, first and second rounds at campus sites,
   May 16-21 -- NCAA Men's and Women's Team Championships, round of 16 through finals, Urbana, Ill.,,
   May 22-27 -- NCAA Men's and Women's Individual Championships, Urbana, Ill.,,

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