The past of American tennis meets what at one time was presumed as the future when James Blake and Donald Young will face off in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open. This is a match that at one time many would have thought of occurring deep in Grand Slam’s main draw, not the second round of qualifying.
Blake has not advanced past the third round of a Grand Slam since reaching the fourth round in Melbourne in 2009. The former top-five player has struggled with injuries in recent years. If he qualifies, this would be his first Australian Open since 2010. He also missed the French Open in 2010 and 2011. Blake has never advanced past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. The biggest win of his career occurred in the quarterfinals of the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 when he upset Roger Federer. Blake went on to lose to next two matches to just finish out of the medal count.
Young was once thought of to be the next superstar in American tennis. He has never fulfilled that lofty promise, only reaching a career high ranking of 38. He is currently ranked at 189.
When Young reached the fourth round of the US Open in 2011, it seemed as if he was turning the corner at the still relatively young age of 22. Young was not able to use that success as a springboard in 2012. Young went only 1-4 in the Grand Slams in 2012 and has a 17-match losing streak during the season. That was the third longest in ATP history.
Young and Blake have met just once. Blake prevailed in five sets at the US Open in 2008. Young has just a 6-17 career record at the slams (which does not include qualifying), while Blake is 59-39.
Blake and Young are set to play tonight at 6 p.m. ET (10am Melbourne time)