Donald Young is proving there is hope for those who don’t immediately live up to the hype.
Asked about the U.S. Tennis Association trying to find the “next Donald Young,” the former teen prodigy couldn’t help but quip: “I thought they moved on from me.”
Young embodies so many other hyped-up hopefuls. Built up to be a world-beater when he debuted at the US Open a decade ago, aged 16, he is now a far more mature player after battling the heavy weight of expectation for much of his career.
It’s a story which could resonate with several players who have been top juniors and not immediately delivered on tour.
“I never really forgot the fact that when I was 19, I wasn’t going to be good ever. When I was 15, I was supposed to win Wimbledon the next year,” Young said.
“I’m here now. I’m 26. I’m right in the thick of things,” he added. “That’s when a lot of people start to play well.”
Consider Young’s upcoming opponent in the fourth round of the U.S. Open. At his 28th birthday, Stan Wawrinka had never been to a major final; now he’s won two Grand Slam titles in the past 20 months.
This isn’t the first time Young has shown such promise though. The last time he made the fourth round of a major – at Flushing Meadows in 2001 – he quickly followed it up with a losing streak which spanned six months and 17 matches.
However if there’s reason to believe this time is different, start with this fact: Before Tuesday, Young had been 0-17 in his career when dropping the first two sets.
Now he’s done that twice, firstly against 11th-seeded Gilles Simon where he was down a break in the third and then again to 22nd-seeded Viktor Troicki when he failed to win a game in the second set.
In the past he admits he’s never given himself a chance to complete such a comeback.
“I’ve kind of had a lot of times when I didn’t fight,” he said later.
“I’ve done that. Why keep doing that? Do something else.”