As expected, three-time US Open champion Roger Federer won his 22nd straight match on Monday, leaving it to 18-year-old American Donald Young to steal the early show on opening day at the US Open.
Federer knocked out Young's fellow Atlanta resident, qualifier Scoville Jenkins 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, but Young came through for the state of Georgia and scored his first Grand Slam main draw win, taking down Australian Chris Guccione 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 on Court 11.
The 18-year-old Young, who just scored his first win on the ATP Tour level last week in New Haven, was grinning from ear to ear after the victory, as going into New Haven, he had lost all 11 of his matches on the pro tour. But Young never lost faith in himself.
“I love playing tennis,” he said. “I love winning. I want to win. Just want to taste it and just keep winning. I wanted to win at this level and I was determined to do it.”
Jenkins played a respectable match, but was never able to hurt Federer, who was far more consistent off the ground and served more proficiently.
“It was a good match, a tough match,” Federer said. “Didn't allow my opponent many chances on my serve., I tried to creates a many as I could. I was serving well. Unfortunately for him he double-faulted quite a bit on breakpoints, which obviously helped. Put myself in the position at least. From the baseline, I was tough. He was kind of controlling play. So I was just trying to keep the ball in play.”
Federer is attempting to become the first player in the Open Era to win four straight US Open titles and is trying to become the first player to win Wimbledon and the US Open back to back to back to back.
“The four in a row, of course, it would be kind of special,” Federer said. “ But it's the US Open five, that's the big one. I was never aiming for five at Wimbledon either. I was aiming for four here. Now that people mention it, of course it would be nice to make it. I'm more concentrated on the fact that I'm trying to defend my title really. That's what it's about. It happens to be four so it's obviously more special. I'm still at the very top of my game, No. 1 in the world.”
After he won the 2005 Australian Open junior and impressed the legendary John McEnroe in practice, the lefty Young was called by some as a surefire top-five player-to-be, due to his foot speed, touch and ability to move the ball to cute angles. But it tok him more than two years to build up to the rigors of the tour.
“I just think I wasn't physically developed,” Young said of his early pro attempts. “I had the strokes, I had the game, I thought I could play with them, but physically I couldn't last. I was 15. They're like 20, grown men. It's different. Winning a challenger in Aptos, my first future in April, it gave me a lost of confidence I can actually play at this level and hang with some of these guys.”
Young was able to out-steady Guccione, a big server who was unable to keep pace from the backcourt. But Young has an even bigger challenge in the next round when he faces No. 13 Richard Gasquet of France.
Most of the seeds made it through on a gorgeous Monday, but three notables did go down. Max Mirnyi served and volleyed his way past No. 18 Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (6), while another serve and volleyer, Spain's Feliciano Lopez, took down 2003 US Open finalist and 21st seed Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The day's big surprise was University of Georgia grad John Isener's 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-4 downing of No. 26 seed Jarkko Niemien. Fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko had few problems with US wildcard Jesse Levine 6-4, 6-0, 6-1, while ninth seed Tomas Berdych overcame Marc Gicquel 6-3 7-6(0) 6-2.
On the women's side, Justine Henin, the 2003 champion, came through in smashing bidding, overwhelming Julia Goerges 6-0, 6-3. The top seed is on the same side of the draw as No. 3 Jelena Jankovic, who faced a stiff challenge from Jarmila Gajdosova of Slovakia in a 6-2, 7-6 (2) win.
“Today I was really nervous, for some reason," said Jankovic, who is bidding for her first Grand Slam title. “I was not that comfortable. I wasn't playing well, was struggling out there. But it's always good to have some competition in the first rounds, to feel that, so you kind of wake up so you're ready for the next ones."
It wasn't a good day for the young US women, as Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli ended the hopes of US wildcard Alexa Glatch 6-1, 6-1, Andrea Petkovic beat Audra Cohen 6-4, 6-1 and Elena
Likhovtseva defeated Lauren Albanese 6-0, 6-2.