NEW YORK -- These days it’s good to be Taylor Townsend but, by any measure, Wednesday bordered on great.
Out on Court 17 and its raucous crowd, the 27-year-old mother scored a second-round upset of No.19 Beatriz Haddad Maia, 7-6 (1), 7-5.
“Court 17 was lit,” the American told reporters afterward. “I literally came off the court, I was like, 'That was so fire. It was so fun'. I was feeding off the energy.”
A few hours later, paired with Leylah Fernandez on Court 10, Townsend collected yet another doubles victory.
What an explosive move from Taylor Townsend! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/0F4jLoZaTE— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 30, 2023
"I think that sometimes when you're having success in one area more than the other, it's very easy for people to try and box you in, say, 'Oh, she's doing great in doubles', and that overshadows anything.
"But I'm out here working. I'm a tennis player, period. It's just that right now my doubles ranking is higher than my singles, but not for long."
Now, can she keep it going Friday when she meets red-hot No.9 Karolina Muchova in a match that will vault one of them into the second week of the US Open?
When someone is playing as well as Townsend, it usually looks effortless, but she alone knows the monumental, long-game effort that was required. After giving birth to a son, Adyn Aubrey, in March of 2021, it’s been two and one-half years of grinding -- in the gym and in the anonymity of places like Palm Harbor, Florida and Tyler, Texas and Macon, Georgia.
2 - In beating Beatriz Haddad Maia at US Open 2023, Taylor Townsend has registered her 2nd consecutive win against a top-20 opponent (also Pegula at Rome 2023), as many as she had beat in her 21 matches prior against such opponents. Boom. #USOpen #USOpen2023 | @usopen @WTA pic.twitter.com/Gwl8vu1SUa— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 30, 2023
“Man, this is what I train for,” Townsend explained. “I’m really happy the way it shows up. I’ve worked really hard to be in the place where I am today and be sitting in front of you guys. I never take a day for granted.
“These are the times, and a day like this I would be proud to share with my son and say, `Look, you put in the work and you reap the rewards'. Sometimes you don’t know when that’s going to happen, but just keep working and it will happen eventually.’ ”
This, Townsend understands better than most. As a 15-year-old, she won the 2012 Australian Open junior singles and doubles titles, becoming the first American to do that at a junior Grand Slam event since Lindsay Davenport 20 years earlier. But the career of the former junior No.1 unfolded very differently from Davenport’s, who went on to become a three-time major champion.
There were some well-documented squabbles with the United States Tennis Association over her fitness, and a constant struggle to make an impression at the highest levels of professional tennis. Townsend’s best singles ranking, No.61, was achieved more than five years ago and she has yet to win a Hologic WTA Tour-level singles title.
But fast-forward to last week in Cincinnati when Townsend, playing with Alycia Parks, won her first WTA 1000 doubles title, arguably the most important of her career. She is now ranked No.5 in doubles and is in position to qualify with Fernandez for the WTA Finals.
Moreover, two singles victories here have her on the precipice of the Top 100 in the live rankings, up some 31 spots.
Muchova, however, will be a tough out. The 27-year-old from the Czech Republic was a finalist earlier this year at Roland Garros and, more recently, Cincinnati, where she fell to Coco Gauff. Muchova beat Storm Hunter and Magdalena Frech in straight sets to reach the third round.
These two have never played, but they share a bond.
“Everyone has their ups and downs,” Townsend said. “I remember talking to her at the French Open a few years ago when she hurt herself and she had to pull out. She’s on crutches, couldn’t walk basically. To see her take time off, come back, then see where she is, how she’s been able to ascend to almost the top of the game has been really amazing.
“These are the type of matches that really get me going because it’s a test and it’s a challenge because she doesn’t play like everybody else. Strategically and tactically we'll have to make some adjustments to make sure that I’m able to execute and play my best tennis.”
With the loss of No.8 Maria Sakkari in the first round, this is a big opportunity for Townsend with the winner getting an unseeded fourth-round opponent
Said Townsend, “I’m looking forward to it.”
Watch Townsend's energetic and insightful second-round press conference below: