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Best of Three: Elite men invade doubles, Donald Young's big win


1. Double vision. If you did a -- we ask you to pardon the pun -- double-take looking at the Indian Wells doubles draw, well, you're forgiven. The doubles sub-circuit, province to the Bryans and a bunch of other guys familiar only to the hardest of hardcores, has been invaded by the big boys this week. Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray -- nine of the top 10 singles players are also playing alongside a partner. (And, so far, dominating the rank-and-file doubles teams.) Are they relishing the extra match play after a long absence? Is there a financial incentive? Were they induced to play by Larry Ellison's clandestine offer of Oracle stock options? Whatever, it's great for the BNP Paribas event and for tennis overall. Here's hoping it's a trend and not a happy aberration.

2. Young is served. Donald Young has been all but given up for dead by the tennis establishment. The former junior Wimbledon champ had exhausted his ration of wild cards. Both IMG and Octagon came and went. The USTA and Pat McEnroe sent a letter of ultimatum essentially telling him to cut the cord with his mother and get a real coach or face financial consequences. Coaches declined to work with him on the grounds that his work ethic was questionable. And suddenly, at the doddering age of 21, Young is playing some of the best ball of his career. Two months ago, he qualified for the Australian Open main draw, losing just 11 games in three matches. Last month he qualified in Delray. Over the weekend he scored the biggest scalp of his career, taking out Andy Murray in the desert, a signature win by anyone's reckoning. Now working with USTA coach Leo Azevedo, Young jokes that he's at the start of his second career. Wish him well.

Like most results, it's all in the framing. A big-time win for Young is also a dismal, dismal result for Murray. Lose a desultory match to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final and it's one thing. Lose to a player outside the top 100 -- at a big-time event, no less -- and it's another thing altogether. If there's one player in dire need of a confidence upgrade in Key Biscayne, it's this guy.

3. American beauty. It's not every day we get to do this, so international readers please indulge. But so far, it's been a bang-up event for Americans. In addition to Young, Ryan Harrison is still in the draw, having beaten Jeremy Chardy and Willie Garcia Lopez -- two quality wins. Sam Querrey scored a much-needed win, beating Janko Tipsarevic. Andy Roddick plays John Isner in the next round. Even Tim Smyczek, pride of the Midwest, looked good taking Phil Kohlscreiber to a third-set tiebreak before succumbing. And some glimmers of hope on the women's side, too, not least Christina McHale, still alive after a gutsy 7-6, 7-6 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. It's only one tournament. But you look for small signs of progress where you find them ...