MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Big things were once predicted for Donald Young, the former tennis prodigy who turned pro at 14, had a Nike contract at 15 and played in his first U.S. Open at 16.
Young's star, however, has never really taken off. And though there have certainly been more lows than highs for him over the years, none could have been more devastating than the streak.
A week before hitting his career-high ranking of 38 in February 2012, Young lost a match to John Isner in San Jose. Then he lost to Ryan Sweeting at Delray Beach, Steve Darcis at Indian Wells and David Goffin at the Sony Open.
Young didn't win again until August, a streak of 17 consecutive losses that sent his ranking — and confidence — plummeting.
But in a sign of a possible turnaround for the 24-year-old American, Young reached the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over 24th-seeded Andreas Seppi on Thursday. He now has won more ATP-level matches so far this year than he did in all of 2013.
"I happen to be back playing well and hopefully I can keep improving and stay here at this level," he said. "This is where I want to be."
He next faces No. 16-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan for a spot in the fourth round, which would equal his run at the 2011 U.S. Open, his best Grand Slam result.
That tournament was Young's much-delayed coming out, when he finally looked to be fulfilling his long-hyped potential. He rallied from 1-4 down in the fifth set to shock then No. 14-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round before dispatching Juan Ignacio Chela in the third.