Donald Young reeled off 14 consecutive points in a surge that helped him to a 6-0, 6-3 win over New Zealand's Artem Sitak on Monday in the first round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic - a tuneup event for the U.S. Open.
In other first-round results, Czech veteran Radek Stepanek fought back to beat Philipp Petzschner 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-0, former top-five player James Blake of the United States defeated Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 6-3 in under an hour, Russia's Igor Kunitsyn edged Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5), big-serving Australian Chris Guccione downed Colombian Alejandro Falla 7-6 (3), 6-3, and another Australian Marinko Matosevic was a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-1 winner over Lithuanian Richard Berankis.
Young, who will play Austrian No.4-seed Jurgen Melzer in the second round, turned 22 little more than a week ago, and his tennis career has not taken off the way he expected it would when he turned pro as a highly promising teen in 2004.
"The goals themselves haven't really changed. Just the timeline probably has changed a little bit," Young said. "This year, I want to get inside the top 50. ... Hopefully if I'm in the top 50 starting next year, maybe I'll move into the top 20."
The American is 128th now; his career-high ranking was 73rd in April 2008.
"When things don't happen when you expect, you can't just quit. You have to kind of reassess it," he said. "I'm trying a bunch of different things. Some things work. Some things won't work."
Young and Blake drew support from the sparsely filled stands, but the top two American men in the rankings are skipping the tournament: No. 8 Mardy Fish's withdrawal was announced Monday; No. 12 Andy Roddick's was announced last week.
Fish was seeded second in Washington and cited a bruised right heel in pulling out. Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, has a side muscle injury.
Fish reached the final at each of his past two tournaments, winning the title at Atlanta on July 24, then finishing runner-up at Los Angeles on Sunday.
He was replaced in Washington's draw by Wayne Odesnik, who lost in qualifying. Odesnik was put into Fish's spot in the bracket and gets the first-round bye as Fish would have received as one of the tournament's 16 seeded players. He will face Stepanek in round two.
Odesnik returned to action in January after serving a one-year suspension that the International Tennis Federation handed down because Australian customs officers discovered human growth hormone in his bag when he arrived in that country for a tournament.
Blake's second-round opponent will be Argentine David Nalbandian, Kunitsyn will face Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, Guccione will take on South African Kevin Anderson, and qualifier Matosevic will be up against Fernando Verdasco of Chile.