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Donald Young Upsets Gilles Simon

What looked to be a routine victory for Gilles Simon on Tuesday afternoon turned into another perplexing hard court loss for the 11th-seeded Frenchmen. Donald Young rallied from a two set deficit to claim a hard fought and convincing victory over Simon 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Young advanced out of the 1st round of his home Slam for 4th time in 11 tries. In a match where all the stats pointed to a Simon victory, Young proved that winning the important points is more important than winning the most points.

The first two sets were a story of Simon simply playing at a high level of play, while Young struggled to find his range. In the first and second set, Young hit 36 unforced errors and 6 double faults. Meanwhile Simon fired off 20 winners, 8 aces and only 15 unforced errors. The former world junior #1 seemed frustrated at points, but never wavered from his game plan of trying to hit through Simon, especially on his backhand side. As his forehand continued to exploit Simon’s backhand and open up the court for Young, he found himself earning multiple break chances. Simon fought hard in both the 3rd and 4th set, breaking back in each, but Young calmly and methodically went back to attacking Simon’s second serve and backhand to earn the victories in each set.

The fifth set looked as if it may be a cut and dry affair for Young broke early and held serve to take a 4-3 lead. Having held serve fairly easily up that point, Young played a couple of lose points, that allowed Simon to find confidence and hope. When given his break point opportunity, Simon converted, and the fans on Court 17 found themselves in the midst of a dog fight. But like he had the previous two sets, Young refused to cave. Young quickly pounced on Simon’s serves in the 9th game and garnered three break points. Young converted on the first, after a long rally that saw him pushing Simon from corner to corner with deep, penetrating ground strokes which punctuated with an overhead winner. Young pumped his fixed, yelled encouragements at his box, then cooly walked to his towel on the changeover. For all the drama of the previous sets, the last game of the 5th had little. Young used his big lefty serve to create errors on the Simon return and jumped out to a 40-15 lead. He then blasted a serve wide on the deuce court to which Simon could merely jab his racket at. The ball landed wide and out. Young crouched to his knees, pounded his palm against his chest and cried out in victory to his supporters.

For Simon, it was another disappointing match this summer hard court season. After having made the Round of 16 at Roland Garros and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Simon has only won one match since, and exited both Cincinnati and Winston-Salem in the opening round. Simon has found it difficult to protect his serve and create his own offense on the American hard courts.

For Young, the summer hard courts have help to resurrect and save his season. Long a highly lauded and talented player, with a penchant for doing things his own way, Young labored through an abysmal spring. After a decent Australian Open and early season American tour, Young failed to find his footing in either the clay or grass court seasons, losing in the first round in 8 of 9 tournaments. The trend seemed as if would continue until Young reached Montreal where he advanced to the quarterfinals of the Coupe Rogers. The form he found there has seemed to continue at the US Open. With the weapons Young possesses, this win could provide the confidence necessary to make a big run here where he has had his best Slam results.  Young will play the winner of Aljaz Bendene and Ernests Gulbis in the next round.

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