- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Donald Young wouldn’t call it a setback, but his glum face and petulant reaction to his Australian Open exit told a different story.

Last season, the American reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open and made his first ATP final, putting him in the top 50 for the first time.

On Wednesday, he lost 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to qualifier Lukas Lacko in the second round. He had beaten the Slovakian in straight sets at the U.S. Open to begin his best Grand Slam run.

Walking into a post-match news conference, Young angrily chucked his shoes and bag in the corner of the room and slumped into a chair.

When asked what happened on the court, the 22-year-old testily replied: “He won the match. It’s quite obvious.”

“It’s very disappointing actually but … it’s over now, not much I can do about it. It’s definitely not how I hoped it to end.”

The dispiriting loss came just as his game seemed to be gathering momentum.

Young, who turned pro at 14, has had an up-and-down relationship with the United States Tennis Association. It hit a low in April when he used an expletive-laced tweet to blast the USTA decision to make him compete in a playoff for a French Open wild card.

At the U.S. Open, he was full of contrition, saying he felt a light had been turned on. After the tournament, he finally began working with a USTA coach. But he’s currently coached again by his parents.

On a breezy day at Melbourne Park, they sat wrapped in towels as their increasingly frustrated son stumbled to defeat.

“Let’s go, man. Every point,” his father, Donald Sr., shouted as Young walked out at 5-3 down in the fourth set. He lost the game at love.


CONTENTIOUS CALL: John Isner’s latest five-set, marathon win was overshadowed by David Nalbandian’s outrage at a controversial call.

The towering American rallied to defeat Nalbandian 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8 in a second-round match that lasted for 4 hours, 41 minutes, including a 99-minute deciding set.

Although the match didn’t go nearly as long as Isner’s 11-hour, 5-minute battle with Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 _ which the 6-foot-9 Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set _ it certainly wasn’t short on drama. An angry Nalbandian complained when his request to challenge a line call was rejected by chair umpire Kader Nouni.

Like Wimbledon, the Australian Open doesn’t use a tiebreaker to decide the final set in a five-set match. When the score reached 6-6 in the fifth, Isner and Nalbandian had already been on court in front of a packed house at Margaret Court Arena for 4 hours and the sun was beginning to set.

Neither player had any break points until the 17th game when the Argentine veteran got three chances on Isner’s serve.

The American fended off the first two. On the third, he hit a serve down the middle that was called out. Nouni overruled the call, saying it was an ace.

Nalbandian approached the umpire’s chair to protest the ruling and then went to study the mark where the ball had landed to decide whether to challenge the call by checking the video replay. But when he raised his finger to challenge, Nouni said he’d taken too long and awarded the point to Isner, making the score deuce.

“I mean, it’s ridiculous playing this kind of tournament with this kind of umpires,” Nalbandian after the match. “What is this? What did the ATP do for this? I didn’t understand in that situation, 8-all, break point. I mean, can you be that stupid to do that in that moment?”

The 30-year-old former Wimbledon finalist was even more pointed when asked by the Spanish-language media whether he thought the ruling was personal.

“It’s not personal, no,” Nalbandian said. Umpires “don’t have the capacity to make a sound judgment in the important moments of a match. They’re bad.”

Tournament officials later clarified that a request for a challenge must be made in a timely manner _ a judgment that is left to the umpire’s discretion.


CURTAIN CALL: Former second-ranked Tommy Haas realizes his lengthy career may be coming to a close.

The 33-year-old German, who has slumped to No. 190 in the rankings, lost to Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 Wednesday in the second round of the Australian Open.

Haas is back after missing more than a year on tour because of hip and elbow surgeries. Since returning at the French Open last year, he’s struggled to regain his form, winning just seven matches in 2011.

Under the ATP’s protected ranking system, Haas has entered the main draws of ATP tournaments using his ranking from the date of his injury.

But time is running out on the exception, and Haas says that might mean the end of his career.

“It becomes tricky where you have to play qualifying and maybe go back and play some challengers. I’m not sure if I’m up for the task of doing that,” he said.

“At the same time, when I play at certain moments like I did today, you know, I feel like I can definitely still play with some of the big guys and maybe still have some success. That’s the challenge that I have to ask myself, if I’m still willing to do that after so many injuries, after being on the road now for 15 years.”

Haas is a four-time Grand Slam semifinalist, the last time coming at Wimbledon in 2009 before his first surgery.


DAY OFF: Roger Federer pulled out of the Qatar Open with a sore back two weeks ago. On Wednesday, he got a free pass into the third round of the Australian Open when his scheduled opponent withdrew with a similar ailment.

“Surprising. I didn’t know anything about it,” the four-time Australian Open winner said of Andreas Beck’s lower back strain. “He said he had a lot painkillers and pain during the last match.

“Now I’ll just take it easy this afternoon and come out tomorrow and hit intensely, and then I’ll be ready for the next match.”

Beck said he was practicing and “made a wrong step.”

“I couldn’t serve, so I think it doesn’t make sense to play, especially now against Roger,” he said. “For me, it’s the best decision. It’s the beginning of the season and I have to be careful.”

The second-round match had been scheduled for Melbourne Park’s second court, Hisense Arena. It would have marked the first time since 2004 _ a span of 52 matches _ that Federer had played somewhere besides 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena.

“I knew it’s been a long time since I’ve been on there … but at Wimbledon and at the French we always go at the second court,” Federer said. “I wasn’t disappointed to hear that I was going to play there.”

Federer will play Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the third round on Friday.


Associated Press writer Justin Bergman contributed to this report.

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