A 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 fourth-round loss to Stan Wawrinka eliminated Donald Young from the U.S. Open on Monday, a full two days later than at least one tournament worker expected Young to be sent home.
"I came to the locker room [Sunday] and opened it up and it was clean," Young said. "Like, a couple of shirts missing, all my shoes were gone. Apparently someone said that I was out of the tournament, so the guys thought I went home. They were taking some souvenirs."
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Evidently that someone had stopped watching Young's third-round match on Saturday after the second set, before Young conjured a comeback from two sets down to win in five against Serbia's Viktor Troicki -- Young's second such rally in the tournament.
Or possibly that someone was assuming a typically short stay in Grand Slam play for the 26-year-old Young, beaten in either the first or second rounds in 21 of 25 previous major-tournament appearances.
Such a supposition, more a matter of history than disrespect, is just the sort of thing Young aspires to disprove. His progress to the Open's fourth round, equaling his best result in a Slam event (at the 2011 Open), was both unexpected and a breakthrough, he said.
"But more so what I kind of was waiting for and wanted to happen," he said. "I feel I'm working hard lately but it just, you know, hasn't come yet. It's come in spurts. I should be playing these matches more often. This was a good step in the right direction."
That he lost to Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champ and ranked No. 5 in the world (compared to Young's No. 68), was no shame. But after cruising through the second set, in which Wawrinka committed 14 unforced errors to Young's four, there might have been an urge to shout, "Donald, duck!" as Wawrinka dropped a quick 5-0 lead on him in the third.
There might have been old thoughts that Young is a work in regress.
"To go from winning everything to not winning much, to have some success, then no success, it's been a lot of back and forth," he said. "I could have easily stopped a while ago and done something else, gone back to school. I have said I was going to do that. But at the end of the day, if I don't play tennis for a few days, I miss it. I love tennis. Without it, I don't know what I would do."
He was able to carry on on Monday because his shoes "magically appeared back in the locker," no doubt with someone's realization that Young hadn't lost yet.
"It's not my coach who took them," Wawrinka kidded.
Speaking of missing tennis gear, there has been no sign at this tournament of the garish pink-and-gray plaid shorts Wawrinka wore during his run to the French title in June.
"I'm lucky no one stole anything from my locker yet," he said. "As for the shorts, I think never again."