By Steve Tignor, Tennis.com
NEW YORK--It was probably a bad sign for Donald Young that, when his opponent, Roger Federer, was interviewed before their match on Monday night, Federer said that he wasn’t all that worried about his opponent’s game. He would focus on his own game; as he went along, he would see if he needed to be concerned about anything else.
There was no need for concern. I’ve rarely seen Federer play a match so transparently at three-quarter speed. For the first seven games of the match, Federer and Young were all square, and it even seemed as if Young’s left-handedness was giving Federer some trouble -- when he got his first serve in, DY was able to direct his forehand into Federer’s backhand and create an advantage. Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t so even. From 4-3, Federer won eight straight points, including a backhand return winner to break, and an ace to hold for for the set.
From there, the result was academic. Federer, while cruising to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, win, went full speed for a total of two points. They came when he was up 4-2 in the second set. With Young serving, he hit a bending overhead from the baseline for a winner, and followed it with a drilled down the line forehand for a winner. That was about as aggressive as Federer got, or needed to be, over the three sets.
With Young coming off a 17-match losing streak and Federer being...Federer, we knew this one was unlikely to be much of a contest. Federer, reigning himself in, hit 27 winners and made 24 errors; Young, trying to attack on a wing and a prayer, hit 17 winners and made 30 unforced errors. His winning percentage at the net was a dismal 34 percent. The only negative for Federer was that, on this humid evening, he had to work up a sweat that we all could see.
Afterward, ESPN’s Darren Cahill asked Federer what he thought of Young’s game, and what he needed to do to improve. Federer, diplomatically, pointedly, and correctly, said that he needs to work hard and make sure he gets the right advice. The question and answer made sense, because with Federer in a lower gear, this match was more about Young than it was Roger. There’s work to be done for DY. The future looks brighter for Roger. He plays Bjorn Phau next.