NEW YORK—It didn’t take long for the 2013 U.S. Open to have its first authentic U.S. Open moment. You know how those go: Night match, packed house, storybook upset out of nowhere. Victoria Duval’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over 2011 champion Sam Stosur was all of that, and a little bit more.
Duval is 17, but she looks and sounds closer to 12. The Haitian-American survived an armed robbery as a seven-year-old, as well as her father’s near death in the island’s 2010 earthquake—he dug himself out of the rubble after essentially being buried alive. What’s a tennis match, even a night match at the Open against an ex-champ, after all of that?
But the best thing about Duval, who is ranked No. 296 and had to qualify for the main draw, is the purity of her game. She’s a clean and fearless ball-striker whose timing lets her hit much more explosively than you think her 154-pound frame should allow. Tonight Duval, a student of Nick Bollettieri, took the ball early and on the rise, and went for the corners with abandon. She surprised Stosur with the angles she could create, and never allowed the Aussie the chance to dictate with her forehand.
Of course, as always with Sam, she had a hand in her own demise. Stosur committed 10 double faults, made 56 unforced errors, and was five of 16 on break-point chances. She had numerous opportunities to get back in the match in the final game, but she let the teenager off the hook each time.
Duval, in the end, wouldn’t be denied. She didn’t hit an ace—none of her serves even reached 100 M.P.H.—and she double faulted seven times. She blew three match points, the last on a wild backhand that inspired a squeal of anguish. But each time she missed, she composed herself immediately. And she saved her best shot, a pure, blazing cross-court forehand winner, for last—it was the shot that won her the match. Then she said thanks in her little girl voice; when she said she was happy and thankful to be there, you believed her.
Thanks to Vicky Duval, this Open had its first rush of New York adrenaline. You never who is going to give it to you, just like you never now where or when you’ll see that pure hitting magic again.
IBM Stat of the Match: It's impossible not to notice Stosur's 56 unforced errors on the scoresheet; 28 of them came on her forehand side.
IBM is a proud sponsor and official technology partner of the U.S. Open. For more information on this match, visit IBM's SlamTracker.