With a nine match losing streak in his rear view, Donald Young will look to score a big scalp on Tuesday as he faces one of last year’s Citi Open finalists. Vasek Pospisil has Finalist points to defend this week in D.C.
(12) Vasek Pospisil vs. Donald Young
For Pospisil, this is a key week as the U.S. Open build-up begins to hit its stride. The Canadian was a shock Finalist a year ago at the Citi Open, losing to Milos Raonic. En route, Pospisil scored key upsets of top seed Tomas Berdych and 6th seed Richard Gasquet. He comes into the week looking a bit worse for the wear. On Monday, Pospisil and Jack Sock lost as heavy favorites in doubles play to Mardy Fish and Grigor Dimitrov. Last week in Atlanta, Pospisil lasted just two matches. He struggled in the heat and humidity to beat Yen-Hsun Lu in three sets in his opener before losing in straight sets to Marcos Baghdatis. The forecast today in D.C. is for more heat, but Pospisil at least gets some relief in that this match is scheduled for the night session.
Donald Young scored his first win in an ATP main draw since March at the Sony Open when he benefitted from the 1st set retirement of Lu. Since then, Young had dropped nine straight heading into Monday’s opening round match with Tommy Haas. Fortunately for Young, Haas is still battling consistency issues since returning from shoulder surgery. Young took full advantage in the first set as he broke Haas in his first two service games. Young survived a wobble of his own after giving one of those breaks back for a 6-3 win in the first set. The second set might have been even bigger for Young as he fell behind to Haas 4-1, but stayed in he match mentally to break Haas twice toward the tail end of the match. He closed it out in the second set 6-4. It was not a thing of beauty for Young who offered up ten break chances in the match. He did do well to save eight of those ten break opportunities, but will need to be much better on-serve against Pospisil.
While Donald Young has struggled for the consistency to become a peak performer at the ATP level, the Citi Open seemingly has been an elixir for him the past few years. In 2014 on a four match losing skid and without much in the way of results, Young came to D.C. and surprised with a semifinal run. He beat three seeded players along the way before losing to eventual champion Milos Raonic. Back in 2011, Young also made the semifinals albeit when the tournament fielded a weaker field.
And then there is the magic that Vasek Pospisil rode last year to his first and only ATP level Final in D.C. He came into the tournament much the same as Young with little momentum. He had battled a back problem for most of the early months in 2014 and had just not been able to get going. At the Citi Open though, he found his mark. The big moment to fuel his belief came in the second round when he destroyed top seed Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4. He would battle from a set down in each of the next two rounds to secure his Finals spot. The energy spent through those rounds and perhaps first timer’s syndrome appeared to get the best of him in the Final. He could not match Milos Raonic’s power and consistency in a 6-1, 6-4 loss. It was still a magical run that still has to rank right up there with this year’s Wimbledon quarterfinal showing as the best in his singles’ career.
This will mark the third career meeting between Pospisil and Young. Young won both previous encounters in straight sets. The last came in 2013 on grass at the Nottingham Challenger. The first came way back in 2008 at the Rogers Cup on a hard court. Neither seems to have much bearing now with Pospisil and Young both in totally different spots in their careers now. Young conceivably has a small edge in this one after playing a night match against Haas, but Pospisil has the weaponry that Young cannot match. At his best, Pospisil’s rocket serve earns him plenty of cheap points and that will pressure Young to match his serve. Unfortunately for Young, that remains a weaker part of his game.
The problems are easy to see though as Young normally wins around 62 percent of his serve points per match in 2015. Pospisil wins a slightly better rate at 66 percent, but has the ability for aces that Young does not match. Young did manage to win 76 percent of his first serve points against Haas on Monday and a repeat performance would give him a chance to stick with Pospisil. For Young, the best chance will be if the conditions play on Pospisil’s mind and body to effect that serve. If Young can see enough second serves, he can pounce on those and have a chance to rattle the Canadian. Pospisil also has been somewhat shaky against lefties at this level with a 3-6 mark in his career against them. The last lefty he saw was Vincent Milliot in the opening round of Wimbledon. The Frenchman took him to five sets before losing. His only other lefty match-up this year came against Gilles Muller at the Topshelf Open where he lost in straight sets.
Finally, there is the added pressure that Pospisil will have in defending points from making last year’s Final. How he responds to that may well determine who wins this one.
Young in Three Sets