By McCarton Ackerman
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com will be taking a look at players who could contend or surprise during this year's Series. Up now: American Davis Cupper Donald Young.
The Donald Young File
Residence: Atlanta, GA
Current Rank: 47
Career-High Rank: 38 (February 2012)
Best 2014 Series Finish: SF (Citi Open, Washington, D.C.)
Young was labeled as a "can't miss" prospect destined for Grand Slam titles after winning the Australian Open boys' singles title as a 15-year-old in 2007, but he's the first to admit the early hype never materialized. After struggling for years against older and more experienced opponents, he enjoyed a breakthrough in 2011 by reaching the fourth round of the US Open and his first ATP Tour final weeks later in Bangkok, Thailand. But injuries led the American into a nightmare slump that saw him ranked outside of the Top 200 just 18 months later.
Now, after spending the last two years quietly rebuilding his game with consistent results, the 25-year-old has kicked his game into overdrive. Young has gone 10-5 to open in 2015, with impressive results including a finals appearance at the ATP Tour event in Delray Beach, Fla., and a semifinal showing the week before at the ATP event in Memphis, Tenn. His peak form attracted the attention of U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier, who rewarded him with a spot in the team's lineup against Great Britain.
Young possesses a flashy game that can include huge forehand winners and delicate drop shots, and in recent months the left-hander has shown more of a willingness to go to the net. Doing so has shortened his matches considerably, and Young has also given himself a greater chance to be fighting fit in the later rounds of matches by spending more time working on his fitness. Perhaps most importantly, the once temperamental Young has shown a much calmer demeanor in 2015, focusing solely on what he can control.
With minimal points to defend from the beginning of April until the Series event in Washington, D.C., Young will have plenty of opportunities to boost his current ranking and perhaps even land a seeded position for this year's Series events. With the right draw, he has all the tools to capture his first tour title this summer.