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An Interview With: Donald Young

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Q. Simon just said after those three double faults third set that you got in his head. Did you sense that? Did you feel like you capitalized on what happened?

DONALD YOUNG: For sure. Definitely. I mean, he was giving it to me. I wasn't absolutely playing great, but he's 11 in the world, quality opponent, and beaten me a few times before. He was definitely with the mental edge. When I saw that, it gave me hope and gave me a chance to really feel like if I was to stay in it and, you know, in the moment, I could actually come back and see what happened.

Q. Heading into a match like this, he's had a lot of success against you in the past. How much is that on your mind? Is that something you can erase or do stuff differently?

DONALD YOUNG: It's definitely tough to erase. I haven't mastered erasing it. But the fact I could get a little confidence from the fact he hadn't had a great summer in North America, he's not too confident, hasn't won that many matches and I have won a few matches as of late, it felt pretty good. Like I said, it was definitely rough to have that in the back of my head he's beaten me five times. I have never won a set. And at the time I was down two sets to love, so I was proud of myself to fight back.

Q. The support was like Davis Cup. Did that lift your spirits?

DONALD YOUNG: Definitely. I give all of the credit to them. Without those guys -- if I was in France or somewhere else, some random place around the world, I'm pretty sure I would have lost the match. To look at those people and they keep giving you energy, you can't let them down. It was an awesome feeling, and I'm happy I was able to come through for myself, first of all, and for the fans, as well.

Q. You have had so many tight matches here over the years, was there anything you were thinking back to as the match went on?

DONALD YOUNG: The one was the Stan match in 2011 on that same court but different round. It was a similar type situation: down two sets to one. I had won the first set that time. The fact I had been there o. Just n that the could, I like that court, I like the atmosphere, the fans that show up here in New York on that court are always for me. Definitely it was in the back of my mind, and I'm happy it didn't have to go 7-6 in the fifth.

Q. Down two sets to love today, at that point did you make a decision to change either your mental or tactical approach to the match?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, for sure I did. Down two sets to love and 3-0 actually, that's when I decided to swing a little freer, start to, you know, push the envelope a little bit and start to come in more, just assert myself to the match. I was going to go down swinging. That was pretty much my mentality at that point.

Q. Looked like he was really getting on your second serve at times, but you stayed aggressive at the end of the match, especially coming forward. How difficult is that and how do you get yourself -- you're so good coming forward. How do you get yourself to do it in real crunch time, climatic time?

DONALD YOUNG: It's definitely a mental thing. If you can do it you should be able to do it at the big times. It's about the thing getting to the -- that's when you win points, and even in those moments you have to do it. I was able to get over that hump today and start to do it. He definitely was getting on my second serve, and my first serve percentages were pretty low in the beginning of the match. They showed it on the board, so I was seeing that and it wasn't helping the situation. So I definitely knew I needed to get that up a little bit.

Q. Belief is an important part of winning, so down love-3 in that third set, what were you thinking?

DONALD YOUNG: Honestly, you know, I love playing in New York. I love playing on hard courts. It's the last slam of the year. I haven't had the results I wanted at the other slams. I didn't want to go out like that. If I was to go out, I really wanted to go out swinging and giving him a battle and making him earn it. I didn't feel at first I was able to do that. To be able to do that was great. Emotionally I just felt, you know, it gives you confidence to know you can come back from 2 sets to love against such a quality opponent, a top 10 guy, wins titles and, competes at the highest level every week.

Q. When you got broken at 4-3 in the fifth set, was that nerves or what do you tell yourself after that happens to pull it back together?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, it was a combination of both, but I think he was hitting out on some returns and really going for it, as well. I didn't make that many first serves. Yeah, it was just -- we were breaking each other, so that wasn't such a big deal at that point in time because I knew I would have a chance on his serve. It wasn't like I was playing a guy that serves 140 and I am not going to be in many service games. It didn't feel as bad as it would have felt against someone like that.

Q. You're not that old, but you have been on the tour a good number of years. So many battles, you know, sometimes some problems closing out matches. But talk about how you think this match against such an elite level player will affect your confidence and what can you gain from that?

DONALD YOUNG: Quite a bit. It will definitely boost the confidence. You know, still a first round, so I have a second round to play. But to beat those type of guys earlier in the summer -- against Tomas Berdych at Montreal, to get that win as well and serve it out, that definitely helped for this match. I knew I could do it, so it was just about actually executing. I'm just happy I was able to do it.

Q. Obviously you have only had like a couple of hours to sort of internalize what just happened, but have you given any thought to how this win sort of compares to other big wins you have had throughout your career, especially considering the opponent and the circumstances of coming back from such a deficit?

DONALD YOUNG: No, not really, but a snap judgment, it definitely is up there considering the situation. He's not the highest ranked guy I have beaten, but to do it at a slam and to do it from 2 sets to love and 3-0 down, it's definitely up there. I'm sure I will assess that after the tournament.

Q. So the internal conversation with yourself is positive; would you have beat yourself up more?

DONALD YOUNG: 100% I would have beat myself up. I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you guys. There would just be a couple of people. That's definitely something I have been working on, the mental side. I felt like I have been able to play, but not able to deal with that that well. When things went wrong I kind of bailed out. That's something I have definitely been working on. It's not where I want it to be yet, but it's definitely an improvement and I'm starting to see results.

Q. You said you have had success here. Now do you feel like can you go really deep in the tournament?

DONALD YOUNG: Definitely, you know, I feel like if things go right I can definitely have a good run. I have done it before. I'm really focused on second round. None of these rounds are easy. I think the guys I play next I have lost to both of them. It's going to be another uphill battle for me, and I'm just looking at Thursday. If Thursday goes well, we will talk about the next round.

Q. If you could go back 10 years and give some advice to your 16-year-old self what would you say now?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, there is a lot I would say (Smiling.) Not enough time to say it. Honestly, you know, work a little harder. You know, there are some things would I take back. Yeah, we are here now. I mean, I have had that conversation with myself quite a bit. That only sets me back. I'm looking to move forward, and just really just be working a little harder is what really stands out.

Q. Is there more or less pressure now?

DONALD YOUNG: Definitely less. You know, I'm not the guy that's supposed to, you know, win all the slams and be the best. I can kind of swing a little free. It's like some of the other guys had a chance to do when I was at that age. They have a chance to work in private and get better. I'm kind of in that situation now and I'm enjoying it. Hopefully I can move out because I'm having consistent good results. For the moment, it's fine.

Q. You mentioned on court and your mental skills. What have you been doing to improve those? Sports psychologist? What kind of steps have you been taking?

DONALD YOUNG: You know, I have. I'm basically using some of the information I have gotten in the past to help. You know, I still -- yeah, I have notes and I read them. It's just really about just competing and giving it all you have and dealing with adversity, which is something I can do. It's just a mindset, it's like a switch. I have been able to really turn that switch on a few times lately, and I want to have it on all the time. That's what I'm working on, the consistency. So I definitely see an improvement, and I'm looking forward to it continuing, and like I said, becoming consistent just part of what I do.

Q. Long stretch without any wins over top 20 players and you had some a few years ago. So what's been the...

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, it's just a bunch of reading, listening, going back over tapes, talking to people that used to be around that were good and winning a lot of matches, and just combining all of those matches and talking to people. Like I said, I have had some help with the mental aspect part before, so going over those notes and actually having that in the forefront of your mind really helps, because you can kind of forget.

Q. My question really is your mother first name is Hungarian.

DONALD YOUNG: Some people do kind of, from there, have that name. It's a unique name. I don't know exactly where it originates from.

Q. It's Hungarian.

DONALD YOUNG: Really? Awesome. She's already there. She already knew. She didn't tell me. Yeah.

Q. Breaking into tennis is always a tough go. You were asked about your early years when you were such an appealing player. The McEnroes were tracking you. You have all those wildcards. Do you ever regret maybe accepting all of them? Just talk about that.

DONALD YOUNG: You know, hindsight is 20/20. You know, definitely would change some things. At the time, you know, it wasn't like I was asking for them. They were kind of being offered. You know, you kind of 1 in the world, you're 15, you're ready to go, and they're offered. You take them. Sure, would I not play some of them? Yes, definitely not. But, you know, they happened. They were there. The tournaments wanted me to play. You know, we obviously hoped that I would win those matches, and if I was to win some of them it wouldn't be this type of situation. But it didn't happen. Would I take it back now? I definitely would.

Q. You mentioned part of your reassessment, re-evaluation included reading. What specifically did you read? Was it more psychological type literature?

DONALD YOUNG: Pretty much. I love self-help books. I spent a lot of time reading those. Yeah, it was pretty much what it was. It's all mental for me. I feel like tennis is pretty much all mental and it's always been mental for me, because I could play and the skills weren't really the issue. It was between the ears and it was dealing with adversity.

Q. Was there like a moment in your career when you decided you really wanted to focus on honing your mental outlook on the game?

DONALD YOUNG: Definitely. A few years ago I thought about it. I didn't really, you know, put too much towards it, because it had to be something that was holding me back. You know, I do a lot of thinking all the time. All I do is think about tennis. You know, how can I win and get better? You know, I kind of got the physical part out of the way, which was a big thing for me. And that didn't by itself take me to where I wanted to be, so I figured the other aspect is pretty important. I had to deal with that, and I'm dealing with it. I'm not there, like I said, but it's getting better.

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