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An Interview With: Donald Young (Round 3)

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Q. You mentioned on court you've been working more and more on your conditioning, which has shown in the last three matches. When you say you're working more, is it more hours, better quality?
DONALD YOUNG: I think it's a combination of both. But it's just actually going a little harder. I mean, doing it consistently, not just for a period of time and then stopping for a while. I can kind of tail off and go away.

It's just keeping it up and kind of topping off every once in a while when I'm home. It's just doing it on a more consistent basis, I would say.

Q. How do you feel physically after what you went through? How much gas do you have left in the tank?
DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, no, right now obviously I'm slightly tired. But I have a day off, just mixed doubles tomorrow. Hopped in the ice bath. The legs are feeling pretty good already. I'm looking forward to going out there and battling again. I'm sure it's going to be a battle. Every match is going to be one. I'm happy to be able to push forward. This is what you put the hours in the gym for.

Q. Emotionally? Some unbelievable tennis you're playing out there.
DONALD YOUNG: No, I'm feeling great. Honestly I'm choosing not to look at the phone much. It's vibrating in my pocket as we talk. I'm trying to keep focused, stay with the people that are around, that have been here the whole time, not get too caught up in everything else.

At the end we can all talk about it, talk to my friends. Right now it's business, work to do. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Giving the Grandstand a final send-off before they rip it down.
DONALD YOUNG: That's what it turned out to be. I was kind of disappointed I was out there at first. I was pretty upset the first two sets.

Things turned around. The crowd was awesome. They made the court feel like home, like 17 to me. Those fans honestly are the reason I was able to win. If that match would have probably been somewhere else, we probably wouldn't be sitting here talking.

Q. You're not afraid to express your emotions out there. Do you feel like that helps you get better?
DONALD YOUNG: I don't know. I'm trying to work on being a little more even-keeled. But me not showing any emotion is not the best for me. I've tried that. It kind of bottles up, and then at some point explodes. So to let it out every once in a while and not in too-harsh or crazy ways, it's been something that I've been working on. I've been working on the mental part as well. It's definitely improving. It's not where I want it to be, but it's on the way, on the track I want it to be on.

Q. Do you have to do anything going forward with your back?
DONALD YOUNG: No. Every once in a while it needs a little adjusting. It kind of like shifts a little bit. But nothing that can't be fixed and nothing I haven't been on top of before.

Yeah, I think I'll be fine.

Q. You weren't just down two sets. You were coming off of a second set where you got bageled and you had 13 points in the whole six games. What are you telling yourself before the third set starts?
DONALD YOUNG: Honestly, those two sets were over. I just kind of had to keep feeling. I felt like I was in the first set. Even though I lost 6-0, I had game points in the games. I felt like I still had more to give. The body allowing me to go ahead, a lot more to give. I was going to give it. If that was enough, I would win. If it wasn't, I would be satisfied with going out there and competing my butt off.

Q. For people that haven't heard your name in a couple years, what do you feel you've shown about Donald Young in this tournament so far?
DONALD YOUNG: Improvement. Resilience. I've kind of been beat up. I've beat up myself. I've kind of been down. I've had good times, bad times. Just some resilience and fighting. Hopefully it's not over and there's more to come.

Q. Earlier in the season before you got the Davis Cup call, you talked about how you were feeling like you were peaking. Do you still feel like that?
DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, I still have a while to go. Look at the guys that are doing well. They're like 33. I'm 26. I feel kind of good, even though I've been playing quite a while.

Definitely feeling good about myself. I'm finally feeling like really good overall about everything. I'm still not where I want to be, like I said. But it's definitely an improvement. I'm feeling quite good.

Q. As a black man, how did it feel to be out there during the match, after the match, to hear the USA chant?
DONALD YOUNG: First of all, as an American, it felt good, not just as a black guy.

To your question, it's awesome to see the fans, multicultural, all different walks of life out there cheering for you, chanting the U.S. and the wave. You feel great to be an American. I love playing here. I love hearing my name called.

Again, to be a black guy is great. I appreciate everything and all the fans that come out to support me. But it definitely was a group effort out there today of everyone. I appreciate it and I hope they all come back the next rounds.

Q. The book on you for a long time was that you had a lot of skill and talent but you were a little bit short in power on the weapons side. You've been talking about working in the gym. You've bulked up a little bit. Tell us a little bit about how that's impacted your game, your shots, what you think that might have done for your game, what we can expect from you in the future.
DONALD YOUNG: The basis of my game has been outmaneuvering the guy, putting him in awkward positions. When I was younger, even in juniors, I was 10 years old playing the 14s, or 12 playing the 16s. I was always smaller than the guys so I had to find a way to defuse the power, do something different.

I'm never going to be one of the guys like Isner or some of the guys who are a lot taller than me. I'm not going to be hitting a ton of aces, I'm not going to be slapping you off the court. I'm going to have to find other ways.

Fitness was a way that could actually give me an edge or something that would let me compete with the guys. I've definitely been working on that. That's something you can definitely control 100% yourself. You can't control what the other guy does, but you can control how your body is, how much work you put in, how strong you can be, and that's what I'm trying to do.

Q. Do you feel like you're hitting a heavier ball?
DONALD YOUNG: Definitely. For a longer period of time. I'm able to do it not just for an hour or two but three hours, and four if I have to go that long. That's what I have to do. I'm not going to hit a guy off the court. I'm going to have to use some guile and come in and use some different shots.

Q. You love self-help books. Talk about some of the ones you picked up.
DONALD YOUNG: It's kind of a secret. Can't really give those away.

But I did get a Christmas present. It was Tony Dungy's book. It was great. I've been reading that. I've had it two years. I'm kind of in the middle now. I've been saving it. But it's an awesome book about being a great human being, respectful, competing. He talks about his life, family. I'm enjoying that quite a bit. The other ones, they helped me out quite a bit, but I don't want to give them away.

Q. Talk about your practice sessions with Sampras years ago. Did that change things for you?
DONALD YOUNG: That was great. Anytime you can get on the court with one of the best players ever is awesome. For him to hit with me -- I was actually late, and apparently he never stays for anyone when they're more than five minutes late. He kind of waited for me. I got there, and as soon as he got out of the car he called me a princess. We were playing points. I beat him in a couple of baseline games. The serve hasn't gone away.

He said he expected to see some really big things from me. That was big to hear from a guy like that. Those things haven't come yet. Hopefully they will arrive. I'm going to give it all I have. At the end of the day I can look myself in the mirror and say I've given it all I have.

Q. I've seen the hashtag before. What does it mean?
DONALD YOUNG: It just means Young in Motion. Something me and my friends came up with. I want it to move to the point where it helps kids stay active. Right now it's a hashtag, us talking. It's almost like young people traveling the world doing things that most people aren't privileged to do. I've been extremely blessed. My friends have as well. I really appreciate it. It's kind of something that has caught on.

Q. The organization is forever trying to find the next, the next, the next always. Are they going about it the right way? If you were the emperor of tennis, how would you go about finding the next one, going into the city?
DONALD YOUNG: I thought they moved on from me (laughter).

I don't know. Honestly I think it's doing a good job. We have a great young crop of kids coming up. You have the Frances Tiafoes, you have the Taylor Fritz, the Reilly Opelkas, Stefan Kozlov, they're doing well. Then you have guys a little older than that.

As many kids that can get a racquet in their hand, it seems like a cool sport, it gets on TV more, you see people that are cool playing it, it doesn't seem so much as a country club sport, it will be pretty cool.

When guys see someone they can relate to, whatever demographic they come from, that brings kids to come to play.

Me growing up, my parents were around. I wanted to hit and play. I was in a good environment. A lot of kids don't even get introduced to it. I think it's about introducing the kid to it, playing a bunch of sports when you're young. Whatever one you enjoy the most you keep playing.

Q. You're doing a great job of fighting hard. Where is the fighting coming from?
DONALD YOUNG: I don't want to go home actually. I mean, more matches, more money, it's a lot of things to fight for. I've kind of had a lot of times when I didn't fight. I've done that. Why keep doing that? Do something else.

I'm working hard to keep fighting. I'm actually enjoying it. I'm enjoying it.

The battle here, the crowd, it's awesome. It's actually quite fun. Not going down two sets to love, but showing you can fight and come back is a great feeling at the end of the day.

Q. You and Isner going into the second week of the slam, first time two American men are in the second week for a long time. A lot of women on the other side. Is that cool? Does that matter? Is it helping the crowd?
DONALD YOUNG: I mean, that's great. We're in the U.S. Americans want to see Americans on TV. That's the thing. I know growing up, I wanted to see Americans on TV, which were Agassi, Sampras, Courier, McEnroe, those guys.

It's awesome for John and I. He's been doing it longer than me and more consistently. For me to get in there every once in a while and hopefully become consistent, it's awesome.

The women are holding it down pretty well. You have Serena, Venus, Madison, Sloane. You have a ton of really good girls.

For the guys to get in there, it's definitely great.

Q. When you're down, what do you draw upon to bring yourself back within a match? What are the qualities that you think are most important for that?
DONALD YOUNG: My box, my team, the crowd. I mean, here it's really the crowd, everyone. They really don't let you like go away. They kind of keep you pumped up. Grandstand and 17, such an intimate environment. Once the crowd gets going, you start playing better. It's almost like the other guys playing two versus one. They jump on him, boo him if he's taking an extra five seconds, lifting you up, getting a rub on the back. It's an awesome feeling.

It's really the fans honestly. They're amazing. They really are tennis savvy, know what they're watching and what they're doing.

Q. When you see Serena Williams continually come back, what are your observations of what she does to bring herself back?
DONALD YOUNG: She's just a beast. I think she turns it on whenever she wants to. It's tough. It's a lot of pressure. I don't know exactly what that feels like. I know what pressure feels like. The way she's handling it is like a true champion. I have nothing but admiration for her and respect the heck out of her. She's just an awesome player. She can come back. She's done it so many times in her career. She's been there. Once you've been in a place, you know what it feels like. Once you know what it feels like, you can repeat it.

Q. Roger Federer has decided to go to some new equipment. Have you made any changes in equipment or things like that?
DONALD YOUNG: I switched my racquet at the end of last year. I love the racquet, Tecnifibre 315 TFlight. Honestly, I switched and it's more of a player's racquet. I'm enjoying it. Gotten used to it. They've been great, giving me whatever I need.

As far as other equipment, clothes are clothes. Racquet is very important. It's your wand, your weapon, what you go on the court with. I switched that.

Other than that, I've just changed me quite a bit. That's the biggest equipment change.

Q. You mentioned so many players now are peaking in their early 30s. 26 these days is young in the men's game. It does feel like you've been around a long time. Was there a moment when you had that realization that you were still young?
DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, I mean, I never really forgot the fact that when I was 19, I wasn't going to be good ever. When I was 15, I was supposed to win Wimbledon the next year.

Yeah, it's always felt like that. I tried to keep it in perspective. The results at a younger age kind of change the perspective a little bit. That's fine. That's what happens when you kind of do things at an accelerated pace.

I'm here now, I'm 26. I'm right in the thick of things. That's when a lot of people start to play well. I'm playing better. I want to continue it. Not just focus on that, focus on myself, constant improvement, little things. I feel like if I can improve things a little bit, it can be more consistent and I can keep moving up.

Q. In all sports, confidence is vital. What do you think it will take for you to win this tournament?
DONALD YOUNG: I'm looking at the next round. I'll trying to play Stan again (smiling).

But for me ever to win this tournament, it would take, you know, a heck of a lot more than I did today. To do it consistently, not get down two sets to love. Constant improvement.

I'm not there yet to the point where I would even be thinking about sitting here saying that right now I should be winning the tournament. But I'm working on it. Constant improvement. This is improvement for me. If I can keep doing that, hopefully I can put myself in positions in any tournament to get to the final weekend.

Q. As you do your clinics and work with people, you mentioned the country club before, do you think the sport is seen far less as a country club sport than when you were 15 or 16?
DONALD YOUNG: I mean, it's definitely coming around. The USTA is doing a good job getting it out there to a lot of different communities. I think they have like a real initiative with Hispanics and Latinos. It still could be better. I know people where I'm from, from Atlanta, never held a tennis racquet. The first thing put in their hands is a basketball or a football. It's just easier. You can go out there and do that anywhere. Soccer ball, you can just go out in a field.

Tennis, you need instruction and some coaching which isn't free. Tennis is very expensive sport. That holds back a lot of people, the cost. I was lucky enough to have two parents that played. I didn't really have the cost that it takes for lessons and join the club and pay the membership fee, which is tough. But they're definitely doing a good job and it's starting to be a lot better.

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