Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Young Donald
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Young Donald 08/28/2006 - 7:54 PM

2006_08_28_young_a Okay, let’s start things off with a confession; covering my “home” Grand Slam (I’m both an American and a New Yorker) just doesn’t feel the same. Roll out of bed, go to the hardware store and get shelf-liner, wait for the babysitter to show up, jump in the car and fight the traffic on the Long Island Expressway. . . it feels less like I’m going to a major tennis tournament than. . . ugh. . . work.

I mean, there’s no good way to get my mean or mellow on, no fighting with the waiter in the stinky white shirt whose cigarette ashes fall in my café crème as he delivers it, no melodious song from the Kookaburra bird, no BBC newscaster’s soothing voice to put me to sleep while I’m waiting for the kettle to come to a boil in the flat (this is a feat, too, because those kettles come to a boil faster than Marat Safin after he shanks a forehand).

So how am I supposed to produce a gin blossom of nose of the U.S. Open when it feels like I’m just another New York (reverse) commuter, showing up at the desk?

Granted, that changed some as I strolled past the Unisphere and fountain here at Flushing Meadow
Park and saw Arthur Ashe Stadium looming in the distance. It’s a terrific piece of architecture, actually. It’s not as industrial as the post-industrial, modernistic site of the Australian Open, which looks some coal-fired power plant somewhere deep in the Ukraine, after a bunch of art lovers managed to get it converted into an art museum. But it’s also not as precious as Wimbledon (enough with the hydrangeas and weak-chinned aristos already!) and it has an imposing, nearly majestic quality that Roland Garros lacks.

The sight of the stadium got me a little fired up, and then of course there’s that statue of the buck-nekkid dude, poised in his serving motion (modeled on Ashe’s own, although Arthur preferred to play while dressed, usually in his trademark tighty-whitey shorts).And instead of clutching a racquet, nekkid dude got just the suggestion of a handle (it looks like a twisted cigar, but who am I to draw Freudian inferences?). Guess they couldn’t sell the naming rights to Prince, or Wilson, and just told the artist, “Hold off on the racquet. Can we bring down the price a little that way?"

So far so good, I thought. Now I just hope some of these poor American stiffs trying to crawl out from under the long shadows cast by Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Chris Evert, Jim Courier et al can keep it together and win a few matches in their – our – national championships.

In the early action, we had a split. Vania King took out Alicia Molik, but Donald Young floundered and fell apart after taking the first set from Novak Djokovic. I went around to The Donald’s – whoops, wrong guy - Young's interview to check out the state of his maturity, because the state of his game was dodgy at best.

I have to confess, my heart goes out to this kid. He’s got twin diamond earrings, make-a-statement black-and-yellow Nike duds, and that little, pencil-thin mustache that I’m more accustomed to seeing on brothers in Memphis, dressed in sharkskin suits and alligator shoes, with gold stick-pins under their neckties. Young’s got a sneaky little smile that’s half-planted on his face most of the time. And he’s extremely literal, which I always find charming (articulate people leave too little to the imagination), because I associate it (prehaps mistakenly) with innocence.

Abstraction? Who needs it!

2006_08_28_young_b Here’s a fairly typical presser exchange with Young on the podium:

Q: You had a couple of breakpoints at 2‑4 in the second set and another breakpoint at 3‑5 in the second. If you had been able to consolidate one of those breaks, get the second set back on serve, do you believe the outcome would have been different?

A: Would have been a little closer score line, I think. I don't know how the outcome would have been because, you know, it didn't happen.  But, yeah, maybe I would have held or maybe I would have got broken. Hopefully, I would have held if I would have, you know, broken him, but I didn't.

Now come on, don’t you just love that?

The down side in this, unfortunately, is innocence + youth (he’s 17) = high out-to-lunch quotient. This is an easy formula to apply to Young. You just get the sense, listening to or talking with him, that he doesn’t have the shrewdness of a young Andy Roddick (callow as he was, he always knew where the bone is buried), and that it’s going to take Donald a lot longer to figure out the lay of the land than it did, oh, James Blake.

That’s okay, in a way, because I’ve always felt that despite his prodigy and amazing junior results, he’s got earmarks of a late bloomer – both physically, and emotionally. The down side, of course, is that winning and losing are habits and frames of mind. If you get used to getting pushed away from the food bowl as a pup, you’re unlikely to emerge the Alpha Dog in maturity. Right now, winning two matches in a pro tournament would be a great leap forward for Young, and that will make thinking even bigger not just a huge challenge, but an unrealistic expectation. Players find niches, which are amply demonstrated by the fact that so few of them emerge as stars in mid-or-even late career.

Young has admitted feeling some discomfort as a kid and newcomer on the pro tour, but that’s abating lately. He says, “It's a lot better. Guys are talking, you know. I'm talking. Sometimes you have to start the conversation. You can't always wait for someone to come up to you.”

And just who has come up to say hello?

“Pretty much all the American guys and a couple foreign guys, yeah.”

2006_08_28_young_cI pressed, asking if he’d introduced himself to anyone. He replied:

Can't say I've walked up and introduced myself. I've said hello to quite a few of them, but not walked up and just introduced myself. . . The American guys obviously know (me). Some of the foreigners that were Juniors a couple years ago, I think they know. Like Monfils, he knows. They talk. I think some of them do know.

I couldn’t resist asking if he had ever gone up to Roger Federer to say, “Hi.”

“No,” he said, “But he actually will come up to me and give me a handshake and say hello. . . Yeah, just keep up the good work.”

Young is friendly with his American peers (budding pros like Scoville Jenkins and Phillip Simmonds); as well, Roddick, Paradorn Srichaphan, Justin Gimelstob, Todd Martin, Jim Courier, Paul Goldstein and John McEnroe have all been supportive of his career.

Mardy Fish fared better than Young, winning his match with Simon Gruel in a somewhat sloppy but occasionally brilliant four-set performance. Fish is older and wiser than Young, and more aware and articulate. While fielding questions about the struggles his generation (Roddick, Blake, Robby Ginepri, et al) has experienced living up to the standard set by the dynastic Sampras generation, he got to talking about his close friendship with Blake.

We live basically on the same street in Tampa. We golf a lot in Tampa . Down time is ‑‑ it's nice to have a buddy that close 'cause I moved over from Vero Beach and not very many of my friends ‑‑ they didn't come with me, obviously, at all. They're still there or in college or moved on. You know, so you kind of adopt new friends really. And guys that we were around all the time, like James and these guys. You know, James and I have become very close over the years. It's nice to have such a good guy so close. We both like the same things. We both love playing golf. We both love hanging out. Down time is definitely fun.

So this got me thinking. The best thing to happen to Young right now would be for Blake and Fish to recruit him for their Tampa posse. I think Young could really benefit from that kind of mentoring, and I say that knowing full well how easy it is for someone like me to tell others what they should - and should not - be doing. But really, who wouldn’t love having Young as a kid brother, or at least a rookie, tag-a-long and perfect lab rat for every stupid practical joke you can think of trying?

It would be a terrific - as well as a very timely - thing for a couple of reasons, including the least pleasant one: There were signs on court today that Young really needs a dose of organic confidence that he’s unlikely to get from any other source, including coaches. Granted, Young complained about a sore left arm and a problem in one of his legs, but he often looked dispirited, frustrated, and unable to give himself entirely to the match. In short, he looked like a real kid out there, in stark contrast to the purposeful mien brought to the fray by Fish and his cohorts, including Blake and Roddick (who won big today, and felt and looked very solid doing it).

This is, of course, something you can’t expect others to do, even if you can’t do it yourself. And pro tennis is a jungle; it’s every man and woman for himself, and you’ve got to watch your back, even among friends.  But the real point I’m trying to make is that I can’t really see anything else (I know, let’s do some crosscourt-and-down-line drills! Okay, give me 25 curls with the 15-pounders!) having a career-altering affect on Young, and from what I saw today, he’s in need of some serious career-altering. It’s less because he’s losing matches than because of the way he’s losing matches.

At one point in his presser, I asked Young if he felt at all awed or intimidated when the pros that matter paid him some attention. He said:

“Really, don't know what to say really when they're coming at me. You're just in awe of them coming up, trying to say anything to you. You're kind of at a loss for words.”

Being at a loss for words is one thing, being at a loss for game, or attitude, is quite another. Young needs a big brother, it’s as simple – and difficult – as that.

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Posted by Dunlop Maxply 08/28/2006 at 08:30 PM

Anyone who watched care to give those of us who did not some detail of the "floundering?"

I've heard Young's game is a bit short on pace. Its not uncommon for a certain level of play to dominate juniors but not be enough to bother men.

If that's it, isn't it kind of a shame that Donald is missing out on being a big man on campus at Stanford of something in order to try to develop his game while travelling around all over the place chasing points?

Posted by oldbat 08/28/2006 at 09:12 PM

Sorry but I have watched him in juniors and then in the wildcards. He does not have the game to go up against the big guys. For one one thing he may have the worst body language since Lindsay Davenport. When he is falling behind he hangs his head, slouches around the court and as a young ballboy sitting next to me in the grandstand today said-"He pushes the ball." Why the ATP is bullied into supporting juniors before they prove themselves is a mystery to me.
Sam Querrey never got that kind of support or until recently Scoville Jenkins. I have forgotten over many 60 years of watching tennis the young phenoms who never made it. Get real. These juniors make it about 5% of the time and betting on them is a waste of time. The real ones like Gasquet, etc. come to to the top.The others learn to deal with reality.

Posted by Andrew Miller 08/28/2006 at 09:49 PM

I figured out one problem with the Agassi-Pavel match: fan stupidity.

People cheer "let's go Andre!!!"

Both of them are named Andre....they better start saying "let's go Agassi!" or "Let's go AA" or support will not work.

Posted by Lucy 08/28/2006 at 09:57 PM

If Andre Agassi is playing in his last tournament ever - in New York - and somebody calls out "Go Andre", they're cheering for Agassi unless otherwise stated.


Posted by kiwibee 08/28/2006 at 10:14 PM

Oh no,Agassi is down a set....GO Agassi!!!!!!

Posted by kiwibee 08/28/2006 at 10:16 PM

I can't believe Agassi hasn't broken Pavel's serve since the first game in the first set. Come on Agassi!!!!

Posted by Paranoid Android 08/28/2006 at 10:20 PM

Hey Agassi, Pavel has a good backhand.

Posted by Juan José 08/28/2006 at 10:34 PM

The Devil: And in exchange for your soul, Pavel, what do you ask of me?

Andrei Pavel: To play the match of my life today.

Posted by Juan José 08/28/2006 at 10:35 PM

The Devil: And in exchange for your soul, Pavel, what do you ask of me?

Andrei Pavel: To play the match of my life today.

Posted by kiwibee 08/28/2006 at 10:36 PM

This is bad,very bad for Agassi. I hope miracle would happen....

Posted by kiwibee 08/28/2006 at 10:44 PM

Let's hope Agassi wins the 2nd set tiebreak. then he should have a chance. GOOOOOO Agassi!!!!

Posted by Colette Lewis 08/28/2006 at 10:51 PM

I've never seen Donald Young play a professional match, but in the dozens of junior matches I've seen him play, he never lacks confidence. Is there such a thing as situational confidence?
By the way Pete, he's 17, just turned in July.

Posted by daf 08/28/2006 at 10:52 PM

volandri is in a tight match against benjamin becker of germany. any relation to boris? i see he's being coached by tarik benhabiles (roddick's former coach). interesting...

Posted by daf 08/28/2006 at 10:59 PM

big WHEW for agassi!! now win the next two sets quick.

Posted by Matt Zemek 08/28/2006 at 11:01 PM

Agassi wins the second set tiebreak, and they play a jock-jam-type rock anthem at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

When did this become game 7 of the NBA Finals, anyway?

A fascinating night crowd at the Open. I've never been to the event, but in 20-some-odd years of watching this event on TV, I've never heard a crowd so silent after one player wins a point. When Pavel wins a point, it's a morgue... every time. Almost creepy... (almost!)

Posted by Juan José 08/28/2006 at 11:08 PM


Operator: This is Zeus To The Rescue, this is Zoey speaking. How may I help you?

Steffi: I need one of those lightning bolts on demand. Do you have any right now?

Operator: Yes, mam. Would you give me your target?

Steffi: New York, Flushing Meadows, Arthur Ashe Stadium. Andrei Pavel. He's the tennis player in the orange shirt.

Operator: ...ei Pavel. Orange. All set mam. When do you wish this lightning bolt to strike?

Steffi: RIGHT NOW.

Posted by Luke 08/28/2006 at 11:26 PM

Oops, now they're saying Pavel might have injured something... Hopefully it's nothing serious (enough to let Andre back in the match, maybe, but nothing serious.)

Posted by kbomb 08/28/2006 at 11:30 PM

Juan Jose - I think your mock prayer post was just answered. Pavel did something "wrong" on a shot a few points ago, and he's looked uncomfortable ever since. Never a good sign when a tennis player starts touching his lower abdominal area... at best it's indigestion (Justine redux from the AO?!?) and at worst it could be a muscle strain, groin pull, etc. None of those bodes well for Pavel playing much longer. We'll see how this next service game plays out, but I suspect a withdrawal may be imminent, especially if AA can win this set. Certainly not a good 1st-round lead-in for those hoping for an extended run by AA, and the last thing Agassi needs is a five-setter to start.

P.S. Andrew Miller, you cracked me up with at stupid-fan post!

Posted by juan jose rocks 08/28/2006 at 11:33 PM

just have to say: love your posts JJ!

Posted by Matt Zemek 08/28/2006 at 11:36 PM

Juan Jose:

That last post of yours should be framed in Newport, Rhode Island.

A Hall of Fame post from "Senor Clasico."

Posted by old friend 08/28/2006 at 11:48 PM

dear pete,

i say this for the love of tennis. change the music of your podcast. it doesn't suit you. go with something you love. i think it will make you more exited about the prospect of doing it, too. also, it seems like you read a school entrance exam essay aloud. why not put key points on a piece of paper and riff?

i look forward to you doing some actual tennis analysis via podcast. cool stuff. i look forward to getting enraged at you in new ways.

Posted by Matt Zemek 08/28/2006 at 11:51 PM

This match (Pavel-Agassi) has to be one of the weirdest matches I've ever seen. It sure conjures up memories of the 2004 French final between Coria and Gaudio. Not that these guys engage in gamesmanship; they don't. The match, though, has the most out-of-nowhere reversals I've ever seen.

Posted by Luke 08/29/2006 at 12:01 AM

"Don't ask, just believe"... GO ANDRE!!!

Posted by Juan José 08/29/2006 at 12:08 AM

Glad you enjoyed it, guys.

Matt, I love that nickname. But I think THIS MATCH will end up in Newport.

What a crazy ride.

And am I the only one who thinks this seems like a weird Cold War sports movie from the eighties?

Posted by Matt Zemek 08/29/2006 at 12:10 AM

No, not with a Romanian playing the role of a flatter and one-dimensional kind of character. The crowd is making it a classically polarizing kind of affair.

Posted by Bob 08/29/2006 at 12:14 AM

I am for Andre Agassi a bit, but frankly I've alwasy found his ball bashing boring. He has no killer shots, nor is he good at the net. He's a counterpuncher, though he can put some juice on the ball now and then. There is nothing about his tennis I've ever enjoyed. Of the great players in history, he is way at the bottom of the list in terms of me enjoying his tennis. He is so consistent that most of his matches won were by the other player finally making errors. I like aggressive tennis with variety, and he has none of that. The longer he's in this event, the more we are going to watch his matches and home movies about him, and long commentator discussions, while good matches are being played by players who have a chance to go much farther than he does, and I'd prefer to watch them, so although I don't want him to go out now, I dont' want him to go very far.

Federer isn't playing till Wednesday. I'm sure he's unhappy about that. It's probably because of all this King and Agassi crap clogging up the stadium court and perhaps even affecting play on another court or more, and means Federer needs to play seven matches in 12 days.

It's time for the Americans to start losing, so we can watch some other players.

Posted by Matt Zemek 08/29/2006 at 12:15 AM

Unless we have one more ridiculous reversal, we'll get to see Andre (not Andrei) take on Baggy, or--as Senor Clasico would say--Baguito.

Thank the good Lord.

And if Agassi wins that, may he win his 3rd-rounder so he can face Andy in the 16s on Labor Day.

But at least we got one marquee matchup involving the old master.

Posted by Juan José 08/29/2006 at 12:22 AM

I think that in order to make this the perfect 80's cold war epic, they should be playing in some weird gigantic court outside the Kremlin, with Pavel being russian (Pavlovksy). Of course, Steffi would be a California gal, kidnapped by a Russian mob boss with ties to the government.

The Mob boss tells Agassi that he has to tank the game, or else Steffi will be shot, but the U.S government tells him to win the match, since it affords them the opportunity to infiltrate the Kremlin by using the match as a distraction.

Of course, Andre will be played by Bruce Willis, who will be drunk and dirty in his first scene, where he is called upon by some weird FBI agent who used to know him.

Posted by Juan José 08/29/2006 at 12:31 AM

This is how things unravel:

At 0-40, positioning himself for an easy putaway, Andre trips and injures his ankle. The crowd gasps in unison. Horror faces in the crowd. He gets up, everyone cheers wildly. But he loses the game. And gets broken afterwards.

We're at 5-6, Andre serving, and he digs deep to make it to the tiebreaker. During this whole sequence, lots of internal monologue and chatter between Cahill and Reyes enlightens us about the extent of the injury.

During the tiebreaker, Andre falls to 0-4 (again), looking bad. At this point he looks to Reyes, who has a handy. Reyes smiles, and gives Andre a thumbs up signal. Reyes says "Our boys rescued her".

Andre huffs and puffs, and fights the tiebreaker like his life depended on it. He finally wins the tiebreaker 23-21, on a 34 stroke rally that ends on a wild Willy Cañas between his legs for a down the line passing shot.

Call John Williams to deliver his typical stuff, and we have some Oscars.

If this were 1986.

Posted by Luke 08/29/2006 at 12:31 AM

That's right, Andre. One more classic night match at Flushing, for old times' sake.

Posted by Pete 08/29/2006 at 12:45 AM

Thanks "Old Friend." I hate podcasting. No balm will do.

Posted by Bob 08/29/2006 at 12:54 AM

I just watched the Nike Sharapovas I feel pretty commercial again, and that's made me laugh all three times I watched it. Part of it is that I always liked that song. It's one of the good musical numbers in film, with Natalie dancing and Marnie Nixon singing for her. Wood had a good voice and wanted to sing herself. Marnie Nixon had such a beautiful voice, singing for Deborah Kerr in King and I, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Wood in West Side Story and others. Marnie was actually in The Sound of Music, as a nun. Otherwise she never got any credit for the songs she sang in those films. The America dance on the rooftop in that film is probably my favorite musical number in film. I like those musicals. Times and people change, and we haven't seen them in many years, but I enjoyed most of them a great deal; and frankly think that life would be more interesting if you could stand up in the middle of a trial and start singing and dancing about something. The barn dance in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers is another one, and a few from Singing In The Rain. In any event, I personally think Sharapova is the prettiest girl on the tour, (as do Nike and most people) and that commercial is very well done, in terms of casting, concept, and execution. I don't think I'll get tired of watching it, perhaps because I'm from that old generation which enjoyed musicals. I might actually tape that commercial, to keep

Pavel played some good tennis tonight. He could have won that match. Those tiebreaks were matters of fortune, they were so close. I'm sure he wanted to be the guy who beat Agassi in his last match, but he couldn't quite do it. I enjoyed his tennis much more than Agassi's. I'm not sure I've ever seen so many people so against a single player before. He really knows what it's like to deal with a biased crowd, that's for sure. These people have always loved Agassi, and this is it for him. Every match could be his last, and that affection was really evident.

Agassi looks a bit tired. He hit some tired shots in the third and fourth sets. It's such a difference from a single year ago, when he made it to the final and took a set from Federer.

Lindsay looked very good. Obviously that was simple fatigue and soreness at Pilot, though it's a good thing she retired when she did. I have no idea who many of these Russian and Eastern European women are. Often they are cute, and have some good shots, but I know nothing about them. I wouldn't mind living there, if the average women look like they do most of the time.

Sharapova tomorrow night. This is the first time I've ever thought Sharapova was going to make a slam final, though I thought she had a good chance at Wimbledon. Beating Kim really caught my attention, and though I'd put my money on Kim against her at the US Open, Kim isn't here, and Sharapova is very good.

Posted by Lucy 08/29/2006 at 01:04 AM

Actually, I believe that our highly scientific and conclusive poll had Ivanovic as the prettiest girl on tour. Anyway, Sharapova is pretty, but I've never found her particularly witty or bright.

Posted by kiwibee 08/29/2006 at 01:10 AM

Andre got through.Yeah!!!!!! Now,on to the next opponent:Bagman...

Posted by Scott 08/29/2006 at 01:13 AM

Donald Young just turned 17 this summer. Might want to hold off on obits and "career altering" advice for at least a few weeks. Comparing Young to Gasquet -- one of the most heralded and successful teen players in men's tennis history-- seems a bit much. How does he compare against Lubijec as a 17 year old, and Nalbandian, and Robredo, and Blake? all top ten players. I'm not sure he will ever be a top ten player or a tennis great -- but I would be hesitant about writing him off now simply because he's a kid acting like a kid.

Posted by Bob 08/29/2006 at 01:30 AM

Lucy: She doesn't need to be bright. She just needs to be pretty and walk around while people with actual brains and talent do stuff. I agree that the consensus here seems to be Ivanovic as the beauty, but not for me. Sharapova has the kind of beauty I prefer, though it's a matter of comparing a Ferrari with a Mercedes. They are both very attractive. I don't think Ivanovic will ever see the kind of endorsements Sharapova gets, even if she wins a slam. I still think Kournikova had the all-around best beauty; face, body, the whole package. I find Schnyder attractive. She's not in the league with Sharapova, but I personally find her appealing, and she seems to have such an odd personality that I think she'd be interesting to have as a girl friend, and also I'm at least as big as she is. Kim isn't beautiful, but she's cute, and she seems like she'd be fun to be with. I wouldn't want to live with Myskina, though she's attractive. Life wouldn't be pleasant around the house when she was in a bad mood. Justine seems like she'd be fun to have as a girl friend. Whatever her past tragedies, she seems pretty happy and adventurous. She's a total obsessed killer on the court, but off the court she seems relaxed and a nice person. Steffi always seemed a bit too serious and aloof. I was attracted to Goolagong. She was cute, and I also liked Gabby.

Posted by Sammy Masala 08/29/2006 at 01:35 AM

Long live the king! Perry Rogers was as giddy as a schoolgirl but so was I. Baggy beware.

Posted by Ray Stonada 08/29/2006 at 01:37 AM

THANK GOD. Only six more.


Posted by marian 08/29/2006 at 01:48 AM

Thanks a lot, Andre (Pavel)

Best regards,

P.S. I'm going to sue you if you don't pay for the bodyguards everytime I come to the US Open in the next ten years.

Posted by misha 08/29/2006 at 02:16 AM

I get a weird feeling from Donald Young, like his parents have instilled in him some arrogance that prevents him from being friendly with the other players. Here is the interview James Blake gave at the Nasdaq in March, here's the part when asked about Donald. And since I know James has been very helpful and supportive to some of the other younger Americans, like Querrey and Jenkins, I would think he's being truthful about his interactions with Young's entourage.

JAMES BLAKE: Donald, I know a little bit about him. I've hit with him once. He's a very talented kid, but still he's a kid. He's got some learning to do. I think he's got some learning to do at the futures and challengers level first, and then he can get back up here and maybe have some success.
But I think right now he's not quite ready for it. Most 16-year-olds aren't. I mean, it's very, ver rare that a kid of that age is ready to compete at this level. Nadal was probably; Hewitt was. But it's pretty rare. It doesn't take anything away from him because, you know, there's a very good chance he could be good, but I didn't predict that I'd be playing him in the second round.
Q. Is it a little bit painful to see him not be able to break through?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, it's tough. I don't know him as well. I just hope he has the right attitude about it, that this is just a learning process and it doesn't mean in two or three years he isn't going to be a respected guy on tour, a guy that is winning these matches handily and is expected to win them. 'Cause I hope he doesn't come in with the expectations of winning a lot of these matches because even when I started, I was older, it was similar. I wasn't getting as many wildcards, but I got a few that I used and learned from, getting beat up pretty badly. I got a wildcard into Indian Wells and Scottsdale and got beat up by some Top 20 players badly.
I was pretty down on myself for a little while about that, but as I got better and better, I realized that it's possible. It was good for me to see that level, and I hope it is good for him to see this level. But I hope he doesn't take this into the futures and challengers and think just 'cause he can't win a match out here right now that he can't win down there and earn his way back up here. I think that's important to feel like you've earned it. I don't know if he does or not right now, but it's a good -- a really good thing to figure out that you've earned something and to have done it the right way, go through the futures and challengers and get back here. You don't feel like you owe anyone anything. You don't feel like you're not sure if you belong, you know you belong there. I hope he does that and doesn't let this affect earning his way back here.
Q. You've hit with him. Have you had occasion to talk with him about this to make sure he understands?
JAMES BLAKE: Not a whole lot. He seems to have a few people around him at all times. It's tough to kind of break through that.
But if he were to ever ask for advice, I'd be happy to help. I hope his support staff or entourage or whatever you want to call it is keeping his head on straight.

Posted by Mark Eckley 08/29/2006 at 07:46 AM

'Rooming' with Fish and Blake ought to do wonders for his golf, Pete. Maybe that's the direction American tennis should head: towards golf.
Young is in need of cross-training; needs to put on some muscle so he can occasionally 'rip'.

Posted by Sam 08/29/2006 at 09:02 AM

Saw the first 2 sets last night. I love Pavel's backhand and was impressed with his net play. Once Agassi won the second set tiebreak, I got the feeling he'd win, with the crowd into into. Matt - good call on the jock-jam stuff after the second set. I was wondering if anyone else caught that.

Bob - Like you, I've never enjoyed Agassi's style of play, though he has the best return of serve I've ever seen. In his later years, he won more with consistency and fitness.

Posted by Sam 08/29/2006 at 09:38 AM

I noticed Donald ripped a serve at 134mph......

Posted by Sam 08/29/2006 at 09:48 AM

That's right Lucy, our poll had Ivanovic as the best-looking girl on tour. Sharapova is attractive as well, but Ivanovic is clearly more attractive to me.

Bob - Pavel did play well, and if he was able to pull out that second set tiebreak I think he would have won. I enjoyed his game, particularly his backhand, and didn't realize that he had that much touch.

Posted by gabos 08/29/2006 at 12:26 PM

young is *17* years old, and his career is in trouble? when did tennis get to be figure skating?

Posted by Alexander 08/29/2006 at 01:08 PM

Donald needs to play challenger events he's clearly not ready to play top players and he should not embarrass himself by even going to the grand slams.

Posted by Rick 08/29/2006 at 01:10 PM

The Kid Sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by sophie 08/29/2006 at 01:26 PM

Most players say that each match teaches them something. What did Young learn from the match v Djokovic and all the others he's played (and lost) against ATP players? Surely, that his footwork is not good enough, he has very little court awareness, his body language is defeatist and he needs to work on bulking up and stamina. He hasn't learned how to pace himself in a best of 5 (or even 3) sets, to read what his opponent might do etc. etc. Who is coaching him? I cannot see how he has benefited at all from all the WCs. The losses will reinforce low self esteem, unless someone helps him iron out the deficiencies which are ruthlessly exposed.

Posted by Jim 08/29/2006 at 06:54 PM

Some notes from the Monday Day Session:

As a relative newcomer to this great blog, hope this is not "exceeding my welcome".
I am always so psyched for the US Open, just love the whole environment. Nothing like being here!

My favorite match was the 5-set Srichiphan-Acasuso match. I saw the last 3 sets. Sat behind Paradorn's chair in the front row (yeah got some great pics on my cell phone!). Jamea Jackson came by and watched for a bit (think she might have been going to scout a women's match on the court over). Wanted to give her a hearty congrats on Fed Cup etc. but was shy and thought she probably didn't want to be "recognized" etc. The tennis was pretty high-quality stuff - each player being very strong on serve. I really thought that overall Acasuso was having an easier time of it on serve, holding with a lot fewer deuces, etc. He also seemed to have the stronger groundstrokes on both wings, each being pretty comparable on volleys and court movement. What made the match special and what I think did Acasuso in was Paradorn's rooting section. Imagine a group of 20+ people all wearing red/yellow T-shirts and clanking what looked like 3-ft high red metallic cylinders (since they were opposite me, I couldn't tell exactly what they were, except that they clanged). So there they are, chanting "Par-a-DORN Par-a-DORN" and clanging their clangers in accompaniment everytime Paradorn won a point (or Acasuso lost the point, if you catch my drift). I'd never seen anything like it.
If I were Acasuso, instead of just breaking a few rackets in frustration after making a costly error, I'd have probably disqualified myself by pinging a few balls into the stands :-)
So, all credit to Paradorn for holding steady, but Jose had just a few lapses even though he seemed like overall the stronger player, and that was the difference in the match.

Also saw Djokovic - Young; nothing to add that hasn't already been said, except Young called for the traininer before losing the 3rd set, obviously something was up with his shoulder or chest. Djokovic definitely impressive after the 1st set.

The real disappointment for me was Ljubicic-Lopez. On the one hand, Lopez just seemed to be doing everything right, great serves, some amazing gets, some great volleys and lots of groundstrokes hitting the lines, etc. Very smooth player, slices that just clear the net by inches, etc. Was wondering: why isn't this guy ranked higher? Seems like he's got what it takes to play a good attacking game.
Ljubicic's demeanor during the whole match seemed .... removed, like he was phoning this one in or just gave up after being broken the first time. Really surprised at how flat and not "there" he was. Cute moment after the match, MJ Fernandez (looking very elegant in white btw) told him that a group of girls she was sitting with wanted to know if he was available. That sure caught him off guard!

Another good match the 1st 2 sets was Almagro - Ferrer. Amazed at how deep Ferrer was managing to keep the ball even if he was hitting from several feet behind the baseline himself. Didn't really give Almagro too many chances to come in/dictate play. That (and his consistency too) won the match.

Saw Stanislas Wawrinka take out JI Chela - Wawrinka looks like another player to keep an eye on. He looked pretty sharp, full swings on both sides, good movement, etc.

Roddick looked really good in the 1st couple sets of his match (I left after it became clear how this one was headed). Particularly impressed with how much more varied his service seems. Not just blasts, really mixing it up.

Saw a bit of Justine's match: first time I'd seen her live, and she was impressive. Didn't realize before just how much she can disguise her backhand stroke.

If you are headed to the Open for the first time, I had a great experience coming via public transit (LIRR). I wore a rain coat with decent deep pockets, and so didn't have to stand in the "have your bag checked" line. It was enough to carry my cell phone, sun screen and water bottle (and a rolled up plastic shopping bag). My newspaper and Sudoku puzzle I carried in my hand.

The Indian food ($10 got you a pretty nice plate) was more than palletable, $6 for beer (Heineken, Heineken lite or a US lite beer - think it was Coors). Ponchos were only $4, at least at one of the first clothing shops when you come in the main entrance. (I forget the exact store, not far from the exhibit on tennis in South America).

If you come for the day session (and its not raining!), try to get in by 10 am so you can spend some time walking the grounds, heading over to practice courts, checking out some of the exhibits, and laying out your plan for the day.

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Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
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