Tennis

Young's success impacts other players

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Richard Evans

Richard Evans has covered tennis since the 1960s, reporting on more than 150 Grand Slams. He is author of 15 books, including the official history of the Davis Cup and the unofficial history of the modern game in "Open Tennis." Follow him on Twitter.

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FLUSHING, NY

Andy Roddick reached the fourth round of the US Open for the eighth time in twelve attempts with a routine win over the Frenchman, Julien Benneteau. But the biggest cheers could be heard over on the Grandstand Court where Donald Young was scoring his second big victory of the tournament, this time against the veteran Argentine and No. 24 seed Juan Ignacio Chela, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.

2011 US Open

2011 US Open

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Showing all the speed and shot-making powers that had enabled him to beat the 14th seed Stan Wawrinka in the second round, Young shook off the disappointment of failing to serve out for the first set at the first opportunity — slamming down his racket to rid himself of some frustration — and then took charge.

"I was a little disappointed I didn't serve out for that first set because I thought I was giving a chance away and maybe he would take advantage," he said. "I had to come back in the last match against Wawrinka so I was pretty confident I could do it again. That helped me calm down and I don't think you saw any more negative emotions."

Young has little to be negative about right now. Finally, at the age of 22, he is starting to fulfill the promise that people started to get so excited about when he was fourteen. It has taken a long time and even this year he was suffering some humiliating losses to players ranked 300 in the world. "To go from losing a first round at a Challenger in Aptos [California] to the round of sixteen at the US Open is great," he grinned. "You have your highs and you have your lows. I've definitely had lows. Hopefully, I'll have a lot more highs."

If he goes on playing like this he will. Pancho Segura, the game's senior citizen who was playing on the Kramer pro tour in the 1940s before going on to coach Jimmy Connors, always has a shrewd eye for talent. "The boy has wheels," said Segura. "I like his forehand, the way he goes for his shots. Now he's got some confidence, he looks like the complete package."

The frill of it all

New York fashion week? Naw, it was just the 2011 US Open.

Young received praise like that too early. Now he is ready to run with it.

Roddick, who beat Benneteau 6-1, 6-4, 7-6, was enthused by Young's success. "It's a great thing to see," he said. "You just feel there's a little bit of momentum. There is a bit of snowball effect at times if it goes the right way. Seems like there's some of that right now. You (the media) are our voice. When people hear you guys talk about it positively, they come out and support, they believe and it really does affect it. So thank you for your positive stories in the last week. No seriously."

Roddick had obviously seen some stunned looks on reporters' faces because receiving praise from players — especially Roddick — is somewhat unusual. But Andy was serious. American tennis means a lot to him and he is just delighted not to be carrying it on his back any longer.

Meanwhile, Roddick's next match will be against that Spanish baseline slugger David Ferrer whose often unappreciated skills enabled him to beat Germany's Florian Mayer 6-1, 6-2, 7-6(2).

The 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro was the biggest casualty of the day. Even though the slender Frenchman Gilles Simon was seeded higher at 12 to the Argentine's 18, del Potro started as a marginal favorite to win this one, considering how much success he had enjoyed here before his wrist surgery. But, despite glimpses of his old form, del Potro has never quite regained the confidence that enabled him to shock Roger Federer in the final here two years ago and he went down after an entertaining 3-hour-57-minute battle 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3).

Simon hits the ball with sweet precision from the backcourt but it was his decision to start serving and volleying toward the end of the fourth set that surprised his giant opponent and swept him through to his first-ever appearance in the fourth round here at Flushing Meadows.

Sloane Stephens

ALL GROWN UP

At only 18, rising star Sloane Stephens already has quite the life story.

Flavia Pennetta, the 29-year-old Italian, earned plaudits for the gutsiest performance of the day as she dug herself out of a seemingly hopeless situation when 2-6 down in the second set tiebreak against China's Peng Shuai. Normally the loss of a second set when you have won the first is not a desperate situation but the odds were heavily in favor of it being so had Pennetta lost this one because she had already tried, unsuccessfully, to throw up at courtside and was in bad shape physically. "It was one of the worst I have ever felt on court," she said after pulling off a remarkable 6-4, 7-6 victory.

Two sets that had lasted two and a half hours had taken a toll on a sunny, humid afternoon and when Peng, who was showing no signs of being affected by the heat, raced to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak, the situation looked bleak for Pennetta. "She'll never survive a third set," was Jim Courier's opinion and it was hard to disagree. Pennetta had got herself into trouble in the breaker by playing too passively, hoping for her opponent to make the mistakes. She switched tactics just in time and started going for her shots. Even then Peng reached four set points but the tall Italian started putting her last ounces of energy into her ground strokes and forced Peng into error. She saved three and then was rewarded with a huge slice of luck as she half miss-hit a big forehand and watched it land smack on the sideline way out of Peng's reach. Emboldened, she went for two more big shots and closed it out 8-6.

Afterwards Pennetta professed to have forgotten that she saved six match points before beating Vera Zvonareva here in 2009. "I didn't think about it," she said. "But now I (remember) that. I was just feeling really bad. My body just need to breathe. She was playing unbelievable, staying in the middle of the court, moving from side to side. I started to have the sensation to throwing up. But nothing inside so it didn't come out."

Strangely, Pennetta has now reached the quarterfinal at the US Open three times — her best Slam results, never having got past the fourth round at the other three. "I like to be here," she said, by way of explanation. "I just enjoy all the time I am in New York. They are cheering for me from the beginning and it is nice to have the support of the crowd."

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