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An Interview With: Donald Young (Round 4)

Monday, September 07, 2015

Q. How do you sum up this last week or eight days? Do you feel like that's something that was unexpected or this is a breakthrough you were waiting for?

DONALD YOUNG: A little bit of both, but more so what I was kind of waiting for or wanted to happen. I feel like I'm working hard lately, but just, you know, hadn't come yet. It's come in spurts. But like I say, I'm looking to be a little bit more consistent. This was a good step in the right direction for me.

Q. How do you feel about your play today specifically?

DONALD YOUNG: It wasn't bad. I mean, Stan is a quality opponent. I mean, 5 in the world. Most of the year he's been 3 or 4. He's won two slams including the French this year. He's competed at the highest level consistently. He's playing well. He's definitely a different player than I played in 2011. It was a different situation.

Q. How far away do you think you are from consistently playing at the level of someone like Wawrinka?

DONALD YOUNG: Couldn't tell you, really. I mean, I hope not far. You know, I feel like I should be playing these matches more often, but it hasn't happened lately. But I would like to say, you know, the rest of this year and next year can start being somewhat consistently. To be playing at his level is going to take a little more than what I'm doing currently. He's won a couple slams and playing consistently in the second week of slams. That's quality right there.

Q. You said he's not the same guy you faced back in 2011. If you do feel differently about yourself, in what ways are you maybe not the same guy you were then? And, you know, sort of same result fourth round at the US Open but do you feel like the trajectory might be different?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, for sure. I think I'm a little more ready to be a little more consistent than it was then. At that point it was a shot, and, yeah, I just feel better about myself. I feel like things are coming around. I really feel like, you know, I'm ready to do it on a consistent level and not just do it for a while or work hard for a little bit and then relax. I'm looking forward to keeping it going.

Q. Do you look at a guy like Stan who achieved great success kind of in his later 20s and think, you know, maybe that could be a model for you, as well?

DONALD YOUNG: I mean, seems to be how guys are doing it quite a bit lately. Obviously the top guys started quite young. They are doing it -- he's one of the top guys now, but definitely you gain confidence with something like that. He's always been like a quality player. That's the thing. He just, as of recently, became stable, steady person in the top, like, 5, but he's always been a top 20 or top-10 player earlier in his career, as well.

Q. With the Williams sisters preparing to meet tomorrow night, what does their rivalry, their matchups, what does all that stuff mean to you and to the sport, do you think?

DONALD YOUNG: It's awesome any people from the same family be competing at the highest level. They played a lot of matches when they were both 1 and 2 in the world and in finals. So that is super rare. Doesn't happen. I don't know if it's ever happened before or will happen after. It's great. I mean, they are both extremely awesome competitors and athletes and champions, so for what they are doing and their family and everyone who is behind the scenes helping them get there, it's awesome. Kudos to them all.

Q. As you know, tennis can be a brutal endeavor. Your play today in Ashe, crowds behind you all week, now you turn around and go to Uzbekistan. Talk about how you're going to tough it out and be a leader there in front of a hostile crowd.

DONALD YOUNG: I mean, this week is awesome. Uzbekistan, it's going to be the same thing where I am playing for the U.S. and we're going to be trying to beat Uzbekistan to get back in the World Group. We are going to have our team of support and look to that. If it's hostile or not, I don't know. I know it's not like the best place to be going, but I'm excited to be part of the team and get the call and do whatever is need.

Q. What have you learned from your previous two Davis Cup appearances?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, they were both totally different even though they were the same opponents. One was my first one. I wasn't expected to play. John unfortunately couldn't go at the last minute, so I got told a day or two before I was going to play. I really wasn't ready to play. I was at home. It was my first one against Andy Murray of all people. It's not like I went out and played someone exactly my ranking or whatever. Then to go to Scotland in Andy's home and it was his first time playing there for a long time or whatever the situation may be in front of not a hostile crowd but a crowd that was pretty much 100% for him, it was another tough situation. But I was able to play well in that match even though I lost. Those experiences were two totally different, but they gave me a lot of confidence and experience, for sure.

Q. Jack Sock and Stevie Johnson making their debuts with Davis Cup team. What would you say to those guys about what to expect out of a tie like this?

DONALD YOUNG: I don't think I'm in any situation to be giving like advice to Stevie and Jack. But as far as the young guys, it's going to be fun. As a hitting partner, those were some of the best weeks for me. When I was able to go as a hitting partner in 2007 and Winston-Salem for the quarters against Spain then for the finals against Russia. Those memories stick with me as a junior growing up more than almost any. To be with the top American guys and be there, play cards and hear what they talk about, and, you know, what they talk about -- whatever they talk about, it's just new to you. It's all new to you. It's awesome. For Stevie and Jack, I'm excited for them to play for their first time. It's just a great honor to be chosen to play for your country.

Q. You obviously had two really big comebacks this week. I'm wondering, after a really good second set and you fall behind Love-5 in the third, was it a different process for you, given the opponent and the situation and everything, how you were going deal with that to just hang in there or whatever needed to be done?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, every match is different. This one the first set kind of got away. The second I was surprisingly up that much and he got quite frustrated pretty early, and I won that set pretty easily. Then I think it was a little mental lapse early in the third and he took advantage. He stepped his game up again and started hitting pretty big. I got down 5-0, won three games, but from 5-0 it's tough to come back in a set. And then again he jumped on me early in the fourth and it went on from there. I have been playing a lot of tennis this week, but I was feeling good physically, to be honest. It just didn't go my way.

Q. Was there a lot going through the head and everything or just trying to stay in the moment of each point?

DONALD YOUNG: No. You know, at this point I was just trying to stay in the moment of each point and play each point as an individual point and focus on the point in front of me. I didn't play the best tennis of my life, but it wasn't awful, either.

Q. It's been a while since an American didn't reach a Grand Slam semis. Why is that, and do you think what should be changed by the USTA?

DONALD YOUNG: I don't know. I mean, you've got to look at the top four guys. They are taking everything. You have Roger and Rafa and Novak and Andy and then you have Stan in there now, Berdych. Those guys are quality opponents. It's not like -- I mean, it's just tough. I think the ranking and the seeding plays a big play in the draws. Because if you're not seeded in the top, like, eight or whatever and you're playing one of those guys in the third, fourth round, it's tough to beat them. I don't think the USTA really needs to change anything. I think the next crew of young kids are great and are going to be really good.

Q. You have been mentioning Tony Dungy, and one of the things he says is, It's all about the journey; few have had more interesting journeys in tennis. What's been the one thing you like the most about your journey and the one thing that you like least about your journey?

DONALD YOUNG: Really the whole journey I got to learn myself quite a bit and learn what, you know, what I'm about and, you know, what I have in me, what I don't, what I like and what I don't like. Just growing up and maturing quite a bit. To go from winning everything to not winning much to having some success to having no success. It's been a lot of back and forth. Just the resilient part for me, because I could have easily stopped a while ago and done something else, gone back to school. I have said a bunch of times I was going to do that. At the end of the day I don't play tennis for a few days and I miss it. I love tennis. Without it I don't know what I would do. I'm sure after I'm finished playing professionally I'm going to do something in tennis, as well. And what I dislike the most probably was losing those 14 matches in a row from 15 to like 17.

Q. It was tough?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah.

Q. How did you finally end up procuring sneakers today?

DONALD YOUNG: That's a good question. (Smiling.) Actually, Asics was nice enough to bring me two pair over. My mixed doubles partner contacted them and kind of got some shoes. I wore them. I was excited to have something on my feet. (Laughter.)

Q. What happened exactly?

DONALD YOUNG: Unfortunately, I came to the locker room yesterday and I opened it up and it was clean. Like a couple shirts missing, all my shoes were gone, and apparently someone said I was out of the tournament so the guys thought I went home. They were taking some souvenirs.

Q. They stopped watching after the second set?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, I guess so. (Laughter.) I was still in three events, as well, so...

Q. Have they returned the stuff?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah. I got a pair of them back. They made it back. They magically appeared back in the locker.

Q. When was the last time you played on Ashe?

DONALD YOUNG: Mixed doubles semis last year was the last time I played. Singles match was 2012 against Roger.

Q. How do you feel like it played differently with the roof structure? What about that crowd getting behind you?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, it was totally different. A lot more shade than I'm used -- well, it would have normally been at this time of day. It kind of -- whatever it is, it kind of covers up part of the court, and then certain times of day shade was on the whole court for the end of the match. By the second set it was sunny the whole match court, which was great for me. It's a lot more intimate. People have been saying it's cool, like it echos, and you can almost see everybody at the top. Before he'd just get lost up there and couldn't see anyone. Now if you look around I feel like I can kind of see.

Q. One follow-up about the locker. What was your reaction when you were told the person thought you were out of the tournament?

DONALD YOUNG: I shook my head. Wow, I guess they weren't watching anything. I really don't know what the reason was. Maybe that was an excuse or whatever the situation may be. I don't know.

Q. The real question that I want to ask you is: How is your perspective on your future our, on your potential? Perhaps different today than it was at the beginning of this tournament?

DONALD YOUNG: Yeah, for sure. I feel like I'm playing well. I feel like if I'm playing like this and competing, I'm going to put myself in chances to win a lot of matches in almost every match I play. If I can keep doing this and build upon it, I don't know what can happen. Hopefully it will be at least winning, and that's what I want to do.

Q. Gladys Knight was in the crowd today. Do you notice celebrities? Does it motivate you?

DONALD YOUNG: I see everything. Looked at the Jumbotron. They put her name up and the crowd went wild. It was cool to see her out there. Just any time those type of people show up and you're playing on the court, you kind of feel special.

Q. Being that you still have a bit of tennis still left in you, still relatively young, do you think like once this is all said and done for you, you will follow in your father's footsteps and go into coaching tennis?

DONALD YOUNG: A bit of tennis left? I hope I have more than a bit. (Laughter.) I don't know. I really haven't thought about the end. I feel like I'm kind of in the middle now. I do enjoy like helping people out, so maybe one day that might be something I would like to go into. Yeah, definitely. I enjoy helping people out and whatever I can do around tennis. I just love the sport.

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