Donald Young: American Must Be Prepared for Next Hurdle at the U.S. Open

Van SiasContributor IIIAugust 23, 2013

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 31:  Donald Young of the United States plays a forhand in his match against John Millman of Australia during day two of the Brisbane International at Pat Rafter Arena on December 31, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Much like the arc of his career, 2013 has had its share of ups and downs for Donald Young.

But, in what could be considered the highlight of his year so far, the American has qualified for the year's final Grand Slam of the year, the U.S. Open. And he did it with relative ease, earning a place in the main draw without the loss of a set.

As of yet, his place in the main draw has yet to be determined. But regardless of who he's slated to face next, Young should feel encouraged by what he's accomplished so far. What will be a tricky proposition is not to just be satisfied with making it to the big dance, but rather, what can he do now that he's in.

It's hard to believe that it was only two years ago that it looked like Young would finally begin to live up to the expectations that were heaped upon him at an early age. At the 2011 U.S. Open, he advanced to the fourth round, upsetting current world No. 10 Stanislas Wawrinka and former top-20 player Juan Ignacio Chela (now retired) along the way.

Young lost in straight sets to 2012 U.S. Open champion Andy Murray in the round of 16 in straight sets. Murray exacted revenge for his previous match with Young at Indian Wells earlier that year, in which the American pulled off the upset for the biggest win of his career.

Since making his first career final in the fall of '11, again losing to Murray, it's been tough for Young to reach the heights again. Occasional titles on the Challenger circuit have been won, but for the most part, it's been a string of dispiriting losses.

The pressure and criticism Young has faced over the course of his career have been enormous. But perhaps now, after winning three matches in a row for the first time since April, the 24-year-old will have the confidence and drive to get his ranking back into the double digits.

His career is far from done, and this could be another beginning.