By Erik Gudris | Saturday, August 2, 2014
Milos Raonic used his massive serve in defeating Donald Young to reach the Citi Open final.
Photo Credit: Christopher Levy
Donald Young played his Citi Open semifinal as well as he could. But No. 2 seed Milos Raonic proved too strong as he booked his spot in Sunday's final.
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Young entered Saturday having upset several seeded players during the week. That run sparked memories of a similar one three years ago at the same event when the American reached his first ever ATP semifinal. Since then, Young's ranking has gone through several falls and climbs though in 2014 that trajectory is going up helped by a pair of third round finishes in Melbourne and Paris.
Raonic, who admitted after his quarterfinal win he had kept track of Young's often tumultuous career, announced his strategy in the opening game. Winning the first point with a serve and volley, Raonic looked confident of his chances up at net in this first time meeting. Firing down nearly 140 MPH serves only added to that.
Young fending off a break point with an ace of his own and struck another to hold for 2-all. Neither player could gain much traction on the other's service games from there and a tiebreak looked inevitable.
But that didn't happen after Young played his first poor game serving down 4-5. In succession, Young hit a groundstroke error, a double fault, and then a backhand error handing Raonic the set 6-4.
Raonic kept moving forward in the second set. Even when Young would connect on several passing shot winners. After watching Young strike a backhand winner for 3-all, the crowd stepped in. Urging Young on, they implored him to make something happen with his returns.
Young responded in kind by attacking Raonic's serve at 4-all. But his efforts never resulted in even getting a look at a break point chance. Holding his own serve for 5-all, Young roared and once again a tiebreak loomed.
Even with his ability to force Raonic into awkward positions in some rallies, time ran out for Young. Serving to force a tiebreak, Young fell behind 15-30. Raonic attacked a crosscourt forehand return and that gave him two match points. Young sent a final backhand into the net sending Raonic into the final 6-4, 7-5.
D.C. is now the first final of the year for Raonic.
Later, Young remained upbeat about his performance despite having little luck with Raonic's serve.
"It's like Monopoly," Young said, "He has a bunch of get out of jail free cards. He's able to hit lines at 130 and 140. But that's what's gotten him to where he is along with his forehand. He doesn't give you rhythm. He doesn't allow you to do that so credit to him."
With his efforts this week, Young is projected to reach top 50 and also earned a special exempt into Toronto next week. On his struggles over the last few years, and seeing former junior players rise higher than him, Young keeps a new perspective despite admitting that it used to bother him.
"At times it has when you see players win Slams and play well and get top ten and win a lot you start to think about it," Young said. "I have to focus on myself, can't worry about them or you won't get anywhere. Everybody goes at their own pace."
Raonic said his serve and volley throughout the day was in response to Young's earlier match against Kevin Anderson.
"I paid attention to what he did yesterday against Kevin and he was blocking a lot of returns. So it was just to put it in his mind to take that option away from him."
On what's changed for him since crashing out early in D.C. last year, Raonic attributes it to feeling more confident and knowing what to do in big moments better.
Next up for Raonic will either be France's Richard Gasquet or fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil who will play their semifinal later tonight.