Victoria Duval's Big Breakthrough
Published August 27, 2013 12:05
NEW YORK, NY, USA - Fans flocked to Louis Armstrong Stadium to see one of America's young stars test herself against one of the most established names in the game. And though things were close in the early goings, not many would have predicted what was about to happen - right before their eyes they saw a star being born, as 17-year-old Victoria Duval had the kind of win dreams are made of.
Playing Sam Stosur, ranked and seeded No.11 and the US Open champion from two years ago, Duval had everything a young star needs in her first big match - guts, belief, poise under pressure - and even though she trailed 75 42 at one point, even facing a point for 75 52, she never stopped believing, and after two hours and 39 minutes and a dramatic finish, she got her breakthrough 57 64 64 victory.
"I think I played amazing today - it was incredible, the whole match was just really an incredible match and I'm happy I pulled it through," Duval said. "Obviously it's a great feeling to beat a past champion. And Sam is amazing. Although she didn't play nearly her best today, I played amazing, so I'll take it!"
Things got a little dramatic at the end as Stosur put up the kind of fight a champion does - she saved a match point in the 5-3 game with a forehand winner, then another one in the 5-4 game with a forehand winner, and then a third one in that 5-4 game with another big forehand that drew a Duval error.
On match point No.4, Duval hit her own forehand winner - the kind of power she knows she needs.
"I definitely think that getting to the next level in tennis is being able to go after your shots," Duval said. "These girls hit really hard. I wouldn't have pulled it off today if I wasn't confident in my shots.
"I was willing to take that risk and it really paid off."
What does she remember of that last point? "I don't even remember match point," she said. "I guess I was really happy though - I mean, you could tell how happy I was by all the jumping I did out there!"
For most 17-year-olds, this kind of thing is only a breakthrough - but for Duval, it's a beacon of light in what has been an unbelievably tough last few years. Her father, Jean-Maurice, was working out of Haiti a few years ago as the earthquakes hit, and it took a miracle to rescue him - there was no plane access, and two members from the tennis club she trained at, the Kitchens, came to the rescue.
"They wouldn't let planes in because there was no runway, so they looked online for a couple hours and it was the only plane they actually let in Haiti. My dad, they found him after 11 hours. It was incredible. I don't know how he managed. But we're forever grateful to them. If it wasn't for them, my dad wouldn't be here today. Not everyone just pays $30,000 to fly a helicopter to save someone.
"Great story. They're amazing people. I mean, they're angels. We couldn't have found better people."
There was still a long road to recovery though. "He's not able to work, but he's improving so much. Emotionally it was hard at first. But he's as happy as he's every been. He's had a couple surgeries that helped take the pain away. We're just so happy that he's in a good state of mind right now.
"He's just here with us. So it's incredible."
And now, this - her career breakthrough, something that reached one of the biggest stars there is.
"I heard that Lil Wayne tweeted me," Duval said. "I need to go check that out. I actually don't have Twitter. I'm going to go and hit that up. Maybe I have to create one and be like, @weezythankyou."
One of the last questions of the day: 'Do you think Victoria Duval is going to become a tennis star?'
"That's what I'm working for," she said. "If God will let it, then let's go."