If you've bothered to open this thread, you're probably wondering - who cares about Donald Young? Or even, who IS Donald Young?
As for the latter question, I'd imagine most on here would know of him. He's the guy who took our Andy out of Indian Wells in 2011, ranked #143 at the time. They then met again at the US Open where Andy got revenge, winning 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, and again in the Bangkok final last September where Andy won 6-2, 6-0.
Now Young's plight has fascinated me. As a 16yo he was the junior #1 and touted to become one of the greats. All the pressure heaped upon his shoulders had a huge impact on him however, and he's really failed to make any impact on the tour. Until last year. Last year, aged 21, he beat Murray, and that seemed to really kickstart his career. He started rising up the rankings thanks to a Challenger win, and reached the 2nd round at Eastbourne. He broke the top 100 after reaching the SFs at the Washington 500 event, before reaching the 4th round of the US Open and the final of Bangkok (losing heavily to Murray both times). He ended 2011 at a career high of 43 after victories against the likes of Monfils, Baghdatis, Melzer and Wawrinka.
Going into this year it looked like he was finally realising his potential. It looked like, having had his breakthrough season, he was really going to push on and challenge the top 30.
Instead he's had the worst season of his career and has gone so far backwards it's almost impossible to believe.
Here's where it gets interesting.
So far this year he's picked up just 165 ranking points. This sticks him 203rd (!) in the rankings for 2012 (or more commonly known as the ATP Race to London). Level with British #4 James Ward. He's won just two matches all year. TWO! They were against Peter Gojowczyk (then ranked #248) and Grigor Dimitrov (then ranked #83). He hasn't won a match since Memphis, nearly six months ago. Has anyone EVER had such a poor run of form? Two wins all year, to 18 losses. He's lost to the likes of Jamie Baker (now British #2, then ranked #200) and Steve Johnson (then ranked #402).
Here are his results from 2012:
Auckland: R1 - Falla (#80) 6-4, 3-6, 3-6
Australian Open: R2 - Lacko (#119) - 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 3-6
San Jose: R1 - Russell (#104) - 1-6, 6-7
Memphis: R2 - Isner (#13) - 6-7, 3-6
Delray Beach: R1 - Sweeting (#82) - 1-6, 1-6
Indian Wells: R1 - Darcis (#71) - 2-6, 6-3, 6-7
Miami: R1 - Goffin (#148) - 5-7, 4-6
Casablanca: R1 - Paire (#102) - 6-4, 6-7, 2-6
Monte Carlo: R1 - Mathieu (#352) - 0-6, 1-6
Madrid: R1 - Troicki (#30) - 1-6, 6-4, 1-6
Rome: R1 - Simon (#12) - 2-6, 5-7
Nice: R1 - Bellucci (#70) - 7-6, 0-6, 3-6
Roland Garros: R1 - Dimitrov (#87) - 6-7, 1-6, 1-6
Eastbourne: R1 - Baker (#200) - 1-6, 4-6
Wimbledon: R1 - Youzhny (#33) - 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 3-6
Newport: R1 - Russell (#96) - 6-1, 1-6, 4-6
Atlanta: R1 - Johnson (#402) - 3-6, 6-3, 3-6
Olympics: R1 - Seppi (#28) - 4-6, 4-6
This is quite an incredible poor run of form. He is currently ranked #84 in the world, but in just a month's time he could lose 360 ranking points from the US Open (saving at least 10 of them if his ranking is high enough to get into the main draw). After that he could lose another 150 from Bangkok. Now, that's assuming he goes out in R1 of both events. But given that he hasn't won a match in six months, and has one just two matches all year, I think we can assume that there's a great chance that will happen.
By October he could be ranked around around #270 in the world. 150 places down on where he started 2011, nearly two years on. Over 220 down from his career best he set 10 months ago. Now, he could and may very well win a few matches before the year is out and save a few ranking points. But short of a sudden upturn in form he's going to end 2012 well, well down on where he ended 2011.
It is surely no coincidence that this downturn in form has happened after sacking his coach at the end of 2011. The reasons for this were unclear at the time, and it later appeared there was a bit of a dispute between Young and the USTA. After this he went back to being coached by his mother - often a recipe for disaster - and has been a shadow of his former self since then.
So how does someone go from playing so well, to so, well, awful, in the space of a couple of months? Is it really all down to that change of coach? His mental strength has often been questioned after his struggles since going on tour but is it really so bad that he can't stop this rot?
It really is an extraordinary collapse and shows what can happen to a player when it starts going wrong and they can't find a way back.