Every U.S. Open has its feel-good story. Tuesday night, Victoria Duval wrote her own.
The 17-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., who has had only the barest whiff of pro competition and had to get through three rounds of qualifying to make the main draw, defeated 2011 Open champion Samantha Stosur, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, in a first-round match at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
With the fearlessness of a much more seasoned player, Duval was the aggressor, going for her shots, playing inside the baseline and forcing the 29-year-old Australian into error after error. Duval is the world's 296th-ranked player; Stosur is No. 11.
"It's a great feeling to beat a past champion. And Sam is amazing,'' Duval said. "Although she didn't play her best tennis, I played amazing, so I'll take it.''
With chants of "USA! USA!" ringing through the stadium, Duval battled back from a break down in the last two sets.
"Credit to her. I'm not going to be a sore loser,'' said Stosur, who committed 56 unforced errors. "But I certainly helped her out today. She went for her forehand more than I expected and she went crosscourt quite well.''
That Duval had to make it through the qualifying was a big boost to her confidence. "Qualifying for a Grand Slam is not easy,'' she said. "I played amazing all three of my matches. That definitely helped me today.''
Duval's story goes way beyond the court. Born in Miami of Haitian parents -- both doctors -- she moved with her family to Port-au-Prince when very young. At 7, she was held hostage by armed robbers in her aunt's house. Her mother, Nadine, moved her children back to South Florida, leaving father Jean-Maurice behind to run his gynecology and obstetrics practice. He was injured in the 2010 earthquake, suffering broken legs, broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Duval, who was introduced to tennis by her brothers, became enamored with it and gave up ballet. She was good enough to get instruction at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton before her mother moved to Atlanta, where Melanie Oudin's coach, Brian de Villiers, took over. She then came under the USTA mantel with coach Kathy Rinaldi.
Duval won the USTA girls title in 2012. That earned her a wild card into the Open last year, where she lost to Kim Clijsters at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Being on that big stage helped Tuesday. "The crowd didn't seem so overwhelming, because I felt as if I had been in that position before,'' she said.
Looks like she will be in that position again.
McHale bounces back. Just as she rose to No. 24 in the rankings, Christina McHale came down with mononucleosis. Right after last year's Open, where she lost in the first round, she was diagnosed with mono, setting back a promising career. So Tuesday's 6-4, 6-3 win over Julia Goerges on Grandstand Court was an adrenaline boost. "I'm really excited that I was able to do it here and at home,'' she said.