By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
For the sixth consecutive summer and the for the ninth time overall, American Donald Young will compete in the main draw at the Citi Open.
Young made that official Sunday as he rallied to beat Peter Gojowczyk 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in just under two hours in the final round of men’s qualifying.
He will next face Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in the opening round of main draw play Monday night on Court 4.
Young is a two-time Citi Open semifinalist (2011, 2014) and earned a memorable three-set win over Stan Wawrinka in the first round of last year’s tournament. The win over Wawrinka, though, remains Young’s most recent triumph in the main draw of an ATP World Tour event.
Since then, Young has battled both injury and inconsistency, while making just one ATP main draw appearance in 2019 (Indian Wells). That’s why, he said Sunday, competing again at the Citi Open is especially rewarding.
“It feels really good,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot so to be healthy again is good. This is the first time this year where I’ve really been healthy for more than two or three weeks. Mentally, I’ve been there. But physically, it’s taken a toll.”
The most serious ailment was a neck injury that kept his third and fourth vertebra from aligning.
“My neck was crooked during the French Open,” he said. “I couldn’t even turn it. My lower back was spasming… There were a lot of issues.”
Young lost in the first-round of French Open qualifying, part of a six-match winless skid in all competition from April through June.
Those types of results for a 30-year-old Tour veteran can make one wonder how many kicks at the can they have left, but Young is hopeful that at full strength, he can regain some of his old form and make the most of the hardcourt season.
“As long as I’m healthy, I feel like I can play a while,” said Young, who in 2005 was the top-ranked junior player in the world.
“Guys are playing longer and I haven’t played as much tennis as a lot of guys. I feel fresh, so as long as the body lets me go, I’ll keep playing. I still have things I want to do, so until those things are fulfilled, I want to keep going.”
For now, Young is pleased to keep playing in Washington where his inclusion in the men’s draw means 12 Americans will be among the 48 competitors in the field. Countrymen Tim Smyczek and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (University of Virginia alum) were also winners on the final day of qualifying.
“I like it here,” he said. “I like the demographic of the fans, they’re great. It’s a good mix. It’s in the States, so I can eat all the regular food. The conditions are hot and humid, the ball jumps, so it’s great.”