Donald Young reeled off 14 consecutive points in a surge that helped him to a 6-0, 6-3 win over New Zealand’s Artem Sitak on Monday in the first round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic — a tuneup event for the US Open.
In other first-round matches, Czech veteran Radek Stepanek fought back to beat Philipp Petzschner 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-0, former top-five player James Blake of the US beat Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 6-3 in under an hour, Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn edged Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), big-serving Australian Chris Guccione downed Colombian Alejandro Falla 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, and another Australian, Marinko Matosevic, was a 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-1 winner over Lithuanian Richard Berankis.
Young, who will play Austrian No. 4 seed Jurgen Melzer in the second round, turned 22 little more than a week ago and his tennis career has not taken off the way he expected it would when he turned pro as a highly promising teen in 2004.
“The goals themselves haven’t really changed. Just the time line probably has changed a little bit,” Young said. “This year, I want to get inside the top 50 ... Hopefully, if I’m in the top 50 starting next year, maybe I’ll move into the top 20.”
The American is No. 128 — his career-high ranking was No. 73 in April 2008.
Young and Blake drew support from the sparsely filled stands, but the top two American men in the rankings are skipping the tournament — No. 8 Mardy Fish’s withdrawal was announced on Monday, while No. 12 Andy Roddick’s withdrawal was announced last week.
Fish was seeded second in Washington and cited a bruised right heel in pulling out. Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, has a side muscle injury.
Fish reached the final at each of his past two tournaments, winning the title in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 24, then finishing runner-up in Los Angeles on Sunday.
He was replaced in the Washington draw by Wayne Odesnik, who lost in qualifying. Odesnik was put into Fish’s spot and gets a first-round bye Fish would have received as one of the tournament’s 16 seeded players. He will face Stepanek in the second round.
Odesnik returned to action in January after serving a one-year suspension that the International Tennis Federation handed down because Australian customs officers discovered human growth hormone in his bag when he arrived in that country for a tournament.
Blake’s second-round opponent will be Argentine David Nalbandian, Kunitsyn will face Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, Guccione will take on South Africa’s Kevin Anderson and qualifier Matosevic will be up against Fernando Verdasco of Chile.
AP, KITZBUEHEL, Austria
Former No. 1 Thomas Muster was easily beaten 6-3, 6-0 by Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Bet-at-Home Cup on Monday in the latest match of his comeback.
The 43-year-old Austrian returned to professional tennis last year after 11 years away, but he has won only one of 15 main-draw matches on the lower-level Challenger tour and lost both main-draw matches at ATP level. He is still ranked outside the top 1,000.
“I don’t plan to keep on playing forever, but I am still very much enjoying it,” Muster said.
The result means that Jimmy Connors remains the oldest player to win an ATP Tour match after reaching the quarter-finals in Halle, Germany, in 1995 at age 42.
Muster, who won the French Open in 1995, was on his favorite clay-court surface against the German, but the fifth-seeded Kohlschreiber raced into a 3-0 lead, before Muster managed a break and reduced the deficit to 3-4 shortly afterwards.