U.S. Checkup: Vania King gaining steam
Vania King, 22, reached the third round of the 2011 U.S. Open in singles and is a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion. (EPA)
U.S. Checkup takes stock of the latest developments involving American players around the tennis world.
Vania King was the forgotten American during the U.S. Open. While the likes of Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens, Irina Falconi and Madison Keys made headlines with their performances and inspired optimism for the future of American tennis, King didn't capture much of the spotlight despite reaching the third round and upsetting a seeded player.
King, however, is starting to generate some buzz of her own.
Best known as a surprise two-time Gram Slam winner in women's doubles (she and partner Yaroslava Shvedova captured their first title at Wimbledon last year in only their third tournament together), King has had a fantastic September. The 22-year-old has seen her ranking rise steadily over the past month (she's up to 90th) thanks to a string of quality victories. The strong run started when King beat No. 31 Jarmila Gaijdasova at the U.S. Open before bowing out to Caroline Wozniacki. Last week she scored her first career top-10 victory in 17 attempts, ousting Marion Bartoli in the second round of Seoul.
King backed it up once again this week in Toyko, taking down another top-2o player in rising star Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 7-6 (6). It was a gutsy second-round performance from the American, who relinquished a lead in the second set before steadying her nerves to prevail in the tiebreak. And on Wednesday, King held multiple set points in the second set but was unable to extend Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to a third set in a 6-1, 7-6 (4) loss.
"I'm much more confident in my abilities and have been working hard to be more creative," King told the WTA's website recently. "I'm happy this hard work is starting to show on court."
Oh, and she can sing. Did you know Vania can sing?
• Donald Young advanced to the second round in Bangkok on Tuesday after Igor Andreev retired trailing 7-6 (6), 2-1. He'll play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez next. In coaching news, the USTA is back to helping the 22-year-old Young, according to Tennis.com. The USTA's Mike Sell, who used to coach Monica Seles, is working with Young during the Asian swing.
• Ryan Harrison, coming off a first-round loss at the U.S. Open, fell to Nikolai Davydenko in his opener at the Malaysian Open. Given the 19-year-old's penchant for temper tantrums, I wonder if he took a chance to visit Yoda while he was there.
• Because of rain delays in Tokyo, Coco Vandeweghe and Christina McHale were forced to play their first- and second-round matches in one day. Both won their openers and dropped their second matches, with Vandeweghe losing to Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-2 and McHale losing to Peng Shuai 6-0, 6-3. Next stop, Beijing.
• The big boys are in exhibition mode as they rest and recuperate for the Asian tournaments. Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick, and the Bryan brothers teamed up for a charity exhibition in Mobile, Ala., on Monday. Barring injuries, the four men will head to Asia shortly, with Roddick and the Bryans scheduled for Beijing next week.
• Melanie Oudin has split with longtime coach Brian DeVilliers, according to Tennis.com, which reported that the 20-year-old is now working with the USTA's Tom Gullikson. The 141st-ranked Oudin is 10-31 in singles this year. She lost in the second round of the Albequerque Challenger last week, and she's playing the Las Vegas Challenger this week. • Sam Querrey played his first tournament after a three-month injury absence last week, making the semifinals at the Tulsa Challenger.