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ACES IN QUEENS

Sept. 12, 2011
Sept. 12, 2011

Table of Contents
Sept. 12, 2011

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
TEN YEARS
  • The games we watched played a substantial role in fostering a return to normalcy after 9/11. In the decade since the attack, with two wars still raging, sports still provide comfort—but they have also inspired, united and reminded

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
BASEBALL
  • The Braves' three-headed relief monster—two parts lefty, one part Rookie of the Year front-runner, 100% filthy—has made life historically brutish and short for hitters. Now all the trio needs is a worthy nickname

TRACK AND FIELD
PRO BASKETBALL
  • No one loves the game more than the Mercury guard, a leading contender for WNBA MVP, but even she didn't understand what hoops meant to her until a string of harrowing events threatened to derail her career

TCU Coach GARY PATTERSON
  • Twenty-five years ago TCU coach Gary Patterson was a tumbleweed assistant clinging to a Division II job. No one expected he would rise to the top of his profession—not even the author, who lived with him then

POINT AFTER
Departments

ACES IN QUEENS

After years of waiting in vain for the next big thing, U.S. fans were finally given something to cheer about at the Open

Everyone loved him. Is that surprise enough? There was Donald Young pounding his heart, spinning and leaping with an endearing grin on his face, surrounded by 6,106 of his newest best friends. "It was all because of you guys," he told the Grandstand crowd at the U.S. Open on Sunday. And everyone cheered, bathing the man who had long been their most visible symbol of wasted talent with smiles and claps and nods. The only thing more stunning was the idea that here, perhaps, was the next face of American tennis.

This is an article from the Sept. 12, 2011 issue

No one saw this coming. Call it hype fatigue, but as one former phenom after another crashed out in the tournament's first days, U.S. players felt a coolness from the crowds. "Everyone's holding their breath for the next American to step up," said Ryan Sweeting, 24, after his first-round loss. "I don't feel that electricity that I'm used to feeling in New York."

Yet even as Sweeting spoke, a fresh charge began coursing through Flushing Meadow. Big-serving, still-growing, 16-year-old Madison Keys announced herself in a three-set loss to 26th-ranked Lucie Safarova. "She reminds me of Venus and Serena at 16," says Chris Evert. "She has the fearlessness, confidence, athleticism." Then with her speed and powerful forehand, 18-year-old Sloane Stephens overwhelmed No. 24 Shahar Peer in straight sets before falling 6--3, 6--4 to Ana Ivanovic in the third round. "She has potential to be top 20," Ivanovic said after. "Top 10," Evert says.

Both Keys and Stephens have formidable talent—and poise and power to spare. That lull in American tennis? "Done," Stephens said, grinning. "We're ready to go to the top, baby."

That's been said before, of course—especially about Young, who then spiraled down a spider hole of entitlement before sabotaging himself in April. Angry at being forced by the USTA's Patrick McEnroe to earn a wild card into the French Open, Young vented on Twitter: "F--- USTA! Their full of s---! They have screwed me for the last time!"

Considering all the help he'd received from the USTA, Young's tantrum was laughable; his apology came off as forced. After a lackluster summer he entered the USTA's premiere event ranked 84th—then provided this Open's biggest jolt of all. Displaying a new grit and professionalism, Young outlasted 14th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka to win his first-ever five-set match last Friday and then backed it up with Sunday's straight-set win over veteran Juan Ignacio Chela. More important, at 22 he spoke like someone ready to grow up at last.

"I can improve," Young said. "You can always improve and never feel like you know everything, which was probably a big thing of mine. I felt I didn't need to work as hard as other people."

Young and USTA officials also said nice things about each other, insisting they've made peace. The crowd on Sunday even chanted a hearty U-S-A!—and it didn't sound forced. For the first time in a long while, in fact, it sounded like something with a compelling future.

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PHOTOCARLOS M. SAAVEDRAUNLIKELY HERO Youth may have been wasted on Young, but at 22 he's showing maturity—and winning matches.