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Donald Young may have found some of his old strengths

Donald Young may have found some of his old strengths
Donald Young in action against Sam Querrey during a match at the 2017 BNP Paribas Open tournament at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Mar. 12. (Mike Nelson / EPA)

More than a decade has passed since Donald Young was the No. 1 junior player in the world and was touted as the next great American champion. A pro at 15 and playing mature men when he was a slight 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, he never lived up to that hype. He never even won a tournament.

Now 27, Young has found peace — and might have rediscovered some of his old strengths. He reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Lucas Pouille of France on Tuesday, but had to overcome jitters after he built a 5-0 lead in the final set.

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"It's exciting to come through and be playing consistent, at least for the start of the year, and just to beat back-to-back quality opponents," said Young, who defeated Stefan Kozlov and Sam Querrey in the first two rounds and made the semifinals of two earlier tournaments this season. "And to fight through quite a bit of nerves, that's always great as well."

Pouille won more points, 88-81, and was better in most statistical categories, but Young saved more break points, 5-4, and converted three of seven break points. Pouille went three for eight there. "I'm just winning some tough matches," said Young, who will face No. 4-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, who defeated Gilles Muller, 6-2, 6-2, on Tuesday. "I've won three or four matches where other guys won more points total than me in the match, so I'm just happy I'm playing the bigger points well."

Long ago, Young beat Nishikori for his first Futures tour victory. Asked if he would change the path he chose as a teenager, Young didn't hesitate.

"Yeah, 100%. But at the time it seemed right," said Young, whose ranking peaked at 38 in 2012 and was 88 at the start of the year but is now 60. "I wouldn't take back how good I was then. But I would just take back maybe a few decisions here and there. But you can't blame or fault anyone because it was the first time for everybody. So it happened. It was done. And hopefully I kind of set a map for people of what to do and not to do."

Venus advances

Venus Williams said she beat herself in the first set of her round-of-16 match against Peng Shuai of China but she was satisfied to have regrouped for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory and a quarterfinal berth. Winning here, she said, is not yet uppermost in her mind.

"I have to focus. It's not there yet. It's just, like, getting closer," she said. "You know, your mouth starts to water, but it doesn't mean you'll get fed. So I have to get it in and try to win."

She will face No. 14 Elina Vesnina of Russia, who upset No. 2 Angelique Kerber of Germany, 6-3, 6-3.

In a match that ended at 11:21 p.m., Madison Keys was defeated by Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 6-4, in Keys' first tournament since she un-derwent left wrist surgery Nov. 2. Wozniacki advanced to the quarterfinals against Kristina Mladenovic of France, who defeated American Lauren Davis, 6-3, 6-3.

Earlier in the day, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset No. 5 Dominika Cibul-kova, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, to set up an all-Russian quarterfi- nal against No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who eliminated Caroline Garcia of France, 6-1, 6-4. No. 3 Karolina Pliskova advanced when her opponent, Timea Bacsinszky, retired with Pliskova ahead, 5-1, in the first set. Pliskova will face No. 7 Garbine Muguruza, who ended Elina Svitolina's 15-match winning streak with a 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-0 decision.

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen

UPDATES:

11:35 p.m.: This article was updated with the Madison Keys/Caroline Wozniacki result.

This article was originally published at 10:55 p.m.

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