In front of a boisterous and supportive crowd, American Donald Young defeated the No. 24 seed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. Young played smart, gritty tennis, matching Chela’s consistent baseline game when he needed to and employing more offensive firepower than his higher-ranked opponent. Young hit 46 winners to Chela’s 19, and converted on five of 10 break point opportunities to take a hard-fought 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 win.
This latest upset for the No. 84-ranked Young continues a roll like no other he's had in the pros. His three wins here equal the number of Grand Slam victories he’s had in his entire career, having won two matches at the 2007 US Open and one match at the 2010 Australian Open. It follows on the heels of his second round win over the No. 14 seed Stanislas Wawrinka, a match that saw Young score the first five-set victory of his career. His ranking had fallen to No. 146 as recently as this past February, but Young came into the Open with the highest ranking he's had since May of 2008, and after this tournament it will climb much higher.
"This is what you work for, this is what you dream of," Young said after his win. "I'm just excited to be able to do this in New York, in my home country's major."
Chela may be most known for his clay-court prowess, but this still represents for Young another huge upset over a respected Tour veteran. Chela is a three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, including at this year’s French Open and the 2007 US Open. He’s been ranked in the top 50 most of the past 11 years, and reached a high of No. 15 back in 2004.
While Young is just 22-year-old, this is his seventh US Open main draw appearance, and it appears that he’s formed a strong bond with the New York crowd. The fans that packed Louis Armstrong Stadium were solidly and loudly in Young’s corner from the start, cheering every point that went his way, winners and Chela’s unforced errors alike. Frequent chants ranged from “Let’s go Donald” and “USA, USA, USA”, to just simply “Donald, Donald, Donald.” The one cheer of “C’mon Chela,” called out in the middle of the third set was met by the crowd with a collective laugh.
Young gave the crowd a lot to cheer about early on. He won the first six points of the match and broke Chela in the second game, racing out to a 5-2 lead. But Chela upped his level, showing the kind of powerful forehands and backhands that have led him to six career titles, all on clay. He broke Young in the ninth game, and held to even things up at 5-5, the momentum seeming to swing to the Argentine.
"I was a little disappointed I didn't serve out the first set," Young said afterwards. "I thought I was giving a chance away and maybe he would take advantage."
With Young serving at 5-5, Chela had two break points. But Young saved them both, held, and then jumped on top of Chela in the next game, nailing two forehand winners up the line to start the 12th game. With Chela serving and down 30-40, Young secured the break and the first set with a volley winner, and then matched the crowd’s cheering with his own scream of, “C’mon, let’s go!”
In the second set, perhaps coming down from the high of the first set, Young dropped his serve in the third game after two quick errors and a double fault. But Young, showing tremendous poise and fight, broke back in the eighth game to even things up at 4-4. He followed with an ace and a forehand winner to hold to 5-4, and with Chelsa serving at 5-6, 30-0, Young climbed back, scoring four straight points to take a two-set lead.
In the third set Young broke in the eighth game to go up 5-3, and then closed out the match at love, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd in the final game when he got up 40-0.
Young said the crowd support was key to his victory, particularly in the their set when he began to feel fatigued. "The energy was kind of going away," he said. "They definitely pushed me through."
In this performance here, we are finally seeing the player the tennis cognoscenti had touted for so long after Young’s impressive junior career. In 2005, Young finished the year as the No. 1 ranked junior in the world. He was 16 years and 5 months old at the time, still the youngest male to pull off that feat. Young won the 2005 Australian Open at the ripe age of 15, and the Wimbledon juniors in 2007 at age 17.
In the fourth round Young will take on the winner of tonight’s Andy Murray vs. Feliciano Lopez match.
- Young is coached by his parents Donald Sr. and Illona. His parents are teaching professionals and run a tennis center outside Atlanta, Ga.
- At age 32, Chela was the third oldest man to reach the third round.
- Chela has been named to Argentina’s Davis Cup team to face Serbia in the World Group semifinals that begins on September 16.
|Donald Young USA||7||6||6|
|Juan Ignacio Chela ARG (24)||5||4||3|