Here in Memphis, Donald Young has spent more time on court than anyone left in the draw. After Day-5, he’s still alive for Semifinal Saturday in both singles and doubles…in pursuit of his first career title in both.
Ranked #67 in the world, Young defeated #40 Adrian Mannarino in the First round, #131 Denis Kudla in the Round of 16, and #49 Bernard Tomic today in the Quarterfinals. Tomic struggled with hip-pain throughout the match (hip issues and surgery sidelined him for four months last year), but played well enough to force Donald to earn the win in three sets.
Donald, after the match: “I’m happy to hold my nerves and come through…He doesn’t let you play the way you want to. I was able to be quite consistent when it really mattered.” True. There were hiccups, however. Up 5-4 in the third, Young failed to serve out the match, but managed to gather himself and break right back to deliver the win in the 12th game.
Saturday will be Donald’s fourth career ATP World Tour Semifinal. Over the Summer, he launched himself into the Washington D.C. Semi’s with a win over Kevin Anderson. His opponent tomorrow: Kevin Anderson.
Young’s doubles partner, Artem Sitak has been playing impressive tennis himself over the past two weeks. Last year, he and partner Marcus Daniell won the doubles title in Montpellier. With he and Donald’s win over veterans Eric Butorac and Rajeev Ram today, Sitak’s won six consecutive matches and says he’s happy to continue “riding the wave” with an inspired Donald Young here in Memphis. The boys will face Treat Huey and Scott Lipsky Saturday night.
Kevin Anderson has yet to drop a set through his first two matches here in Memphis. After a first round bye, he easily took down Sam Groth in the Round of 16, and overpowered the 6-seed Steve Johnson in today’s Quarters…winning 89-percent of his first-serve points: “Coming here I wanted to win the tournament. I’m trying my best each day to get there. It would feel great to be in the finals and it’s been several years since Delray Beach, so I have to stay patient. There’s only one winner each week. I just have to keep a positive frame of mind.”
As he said, the World #15’s last title came in Delray back in 2012 – his second career singles title on the ATP World Tour. Last year at this time, he went on a tear, reaching the Delray Final, the Acapulco Final, and winning the Acapulco doubles championship with Matthew Ebden. In his best career performance here in Memphis, Kevin’s looking to become the first South African to win the Memphis Open since Wayne Ferreira in 1992.
No…two-time defending Memphis Open champion Kei Nishikori has not been playing his best tennis this week. It seems like he’s getting rackets restrung every other sit-down…but as champions do, he’s finding a way to win. Qualifier Ryan Harrison took him to three sets in the Round of 16, as did qualifier Austin Krajicek today. Nishikori after the match: “Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis, but I won. It was a very good win. He has a very good serve. He’s not the biggest guy on tour but he hits with good location and with good slice. Especially his serve, we’ve practiced a lot, but I wasn’t expecting that serve.”
Nishikori and Krajicek practically grew up together playing Juniors in Florida. During our post match interview, Nishikori admitted their familiarity may have given Austin an edge over other opponents who face Kei. He and Austin have spent so much time on court together, Austin wasn’t even remotely intimidated by Kei’s top-5 ranking, and had absolutely nothing to lose. Austin played a hell of a match, took the defending champion to 3-sets; and with the wins over Mikhail Kukushkin and Ivo Karlovic, he now knows he can hang with the top players on tour.
Next up for Nishikori: Sam Querrey. Sam has a winning record over Kei (3-2), but it’s been three years since Querrey has beaten him. Kei won their last battle over the Summer in Washington D.C.
Querrey moved-on to Saturday’s Semifinal after winning two tie-break sets over John Isner. Sam is now undefeated against Isner in Memphis, and Friday’s Quarterfinal was a rematch of the 2010 Final. The best-friends were evenly matched throughout the Quarterfinal; and as expected, both strong on serve. Sam after the match: “A lot of people thought it was going to be a couple of tiebreakers, but I got some stab returns and that was basically it.”
Now ranked #41 in the world, Sam came into Memphis 0-3 in 2015. His First round losses this year came at the hands of Bernard Tomic in Brisbane, Jeremy Chardy in Sydney and Vasek Pospisil at the Australian Open. Make it 3-3 now, with Memphis wins over Benjamin Becker, Jared Donaldson and John Isner. He looks to break .500 with huge upset over Nishikori in Saturday’s Semifinal.
Congrats to Mariusz Fyrstenberg (16 career titles) and Santiago Gonzalez (9 career titles). The phenominal doubles greats have teamed for the first time this year. Like Querrey, before Memphis, they hadn’t won a single match in 2015. Mariusz and Santiago fell in the first rounds of Brisbane, Auckland and the Australian Open – but they’ve found their rhythm here in the “Birthplace of Rock’n Roll.” They’ll have to get past the #1-seeds Max Mirnyi and Ivan Dodig to reach Sunday’s Final.
DAY-5 RESULTS: Stadium Court
 Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Santiago Gonzalez def. Benjamin Becker and Dominik Meffert 7-5, 7-5
Donald Young def. Bernard Tomic 7-6(8), 4-6, 7-5
 Kevin Anderson def.  Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4
Artem Sitak and Donald Young def.  Eric Butroac and Rajeev Ram
 Kei Nishikori def. Austin Krajicek 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Sam Querrey def. John Isner 7-6(3), 7-6(2)
DAY-6 SCHEDULE: Stadium Court (Semifinal Saturday)
12:00  Ivan Dodig and Max Miryi vs.  Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Santiago Gonzalez
2:00p Donald Young vs.  Kevin Anderson
7:00p  Kei Nishikori vs. Sam Querrey
9:00p Artem Sitak and Donald Young vs. Treat Huey and Scott Lipsky