It's amazing the difference a few months can make. American tennis sensation and former top ranked junior Donald Young knows this all too well. His well documented twitter outburst aimed at the United States Tennis Association (USTA), tennis' governing body in the United States, was arguably one of the lowest points in a career that thus far had failed to yield the results expected of him.
Now at long last, Young hopes he's finally found his footing in the sport.
Beginning with his decision to become a professional at 14 years old, tennis pundits across the globe have questioned Young at every turn. Labeled an out-matched, over-hyped prospect whose ceiling was not quite as high as several tennis greats originally predicted (most notably John McEnroe), he was quickly forgotten as other more mature players emerged, such as Sam Querrey and John Isner.
Also questioned was his decision to stick with his parents as his coaches when his ranking stagnated at points and he no longer seemed to be making tangible progress in his career.
Fast-forward to July 2011. Young won his way into the main draw at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C. and created a small stir in the tennis world by reaching his first ATP tour semifinal where he lost to eventual champion Radek Stepanek, but managed to take out two top 30 players along the way.
This was a major confidence booster for him heading into this year's US Open and it has manifested itself in the new found poise and maturity he has shown on court. Young has always had the potential to be a top player but putting it all together has been the biggest obstacle to his success. In his matches thus far at Flushing Meadows, he has finally managed to combine the speed, flair and shot making ability which made experts predict he would be a future number one so early in his career.
This resurrection has not been completely perfect for Young as his serve has proven to be the major chink in his game. During his third round victory against Juan Ignacio Chela, Young's first serve averaged just 101 mph. Because he is left handed and has the ability to give his opponent trouble by carefully placing his serve around the service box he has managed to get by, but against the wrong player it could become a problem.
Next up on Tuesday is world number four Andy Murray, who Young dismantled in straight sets this year at Indian Wells. On paper Murray is the easy favorite and many believe he will avenge the earlier defeat, but even with the extra motivation this will be an extremely difficult match against a player with nothing to lose and the New York crowd behind him.