Amid much moaning in US media about the state of the nation’s tennis prowess, veteran Andy Roddick, emerging Donald Young and big serving John Isner kept up a strong showing by American men with wins at the US Open on Sunday.
Roddick, the main flagbearer for American men in recent years and the 2003 US Open champion, beat France’s Julien Benneteau, 22-year-old Young followed with a one-sided win over 24th seed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina and Isner beat compatriot Alex Bogomolov to reach the fourth round.
All marched on in straight sets to form a quarter of the fourth round. Top-ranked American Mardy Fish was already in the round of 16 on the other half of the draw.
Since no US men made it to the second week at Wimbledon this summer, the American contingent can hold their heads high for performing well before the home fans at Flushing Meadows.
“It’s pretty impressive,” said Isner. “But you don’t get remembered for making the round of 16. You have to keep going on. That’s my goal.”
“I think the players, we’ve heard it quite a bit,” Young said about US players stepping up to meet expectations. “Yeah, it’s great. I think that’s the way it should be here, especially at the US Open.”
Roddick, 29, thinks Young, touted as a future star when at age 16 he became the youngest player ever to be ranked number one on the ITF junior circuit in 2005, has been egged on by the success of some other young Americans, including Ryan Harrison.
“I think there’s a healthy jealousy going on right now, which is good,” said Roddick, the last American man to win a slam. “If Donald Young sees Ryan Harrison play well in the summer, he’s going to not want to fall behind.
“It’s a great thing to see. You just feel there’s a little bit of momentum. There is a bit of a snowball effect at times ... seems like there’s some of that right now.”
Young cuts a dashing figure with his athleticism and style, complete with diamond earrings and a baseball cap tilted to the side.
“The crowd support really pulls you through a lot of matches,” said Young, who spun around and bounded across the court in glee after his victory. “I think it’s coming on.”
Young, who caused a stir this spring with an expletive-laced rant posted on Twitter criticizing his US Tennis Association coaches, subsequently apologized and got back to serious work that is now paying dividends.
“I would say I worked harder and did a lot of different things in the off season, tried to train a little different, just try different things, be a little more openminded,” he said.
Young said battling through the frustrations of his early struggles as a professional should benefit him.
“It was a learning experience,” he said. “I think those things I did helped me now. It’s better late than never.”