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''The sky's the limit'' for Townsend
Having held her nerve in a stirring round two win over Alize Cornet, Taylor Townsend looks to add a third victory at her maiden slam against world No.15 Carla Suarez Navarro.
The buzz that has surrounded Taylor Townsend since her upset win over No.21 Alize Cornet on Suzanne Lenglen has at times focused on her weight and the controversy that erupted when the USTA tried to prevent her from attending the 2012 US Open because of conditioning issues. The US Tennis Federation and the 18-year-old have since reconciled, and in her first major, she is blossoming on one of tennis’ biggest stages.
In her first round, the world No.205 rattled off 11 of the last 12 games to down compatriot Vania King, proving that once she gets on a run, she is hard to stop. Against a shell-shocked Cornet, she alternated 43 winners with 55 unforced errors, clocking eight winners off her big lefty forehand in the first set alone. She also dealt well with Cornet’s service, hitting nine returnable winners and carving out no fewer than 21 break points. In the second set, she held a 4-1 lead before losing five straight games to enable Cornet to force a decider (proving that when Townsend gets on a bad run, she finds it hard to stop).
In the third set, she led 5-1 40-love before nerves again crept in. When another two match points came around, she managed to stay calm and served out the match for a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory in 2 hours and 28 minutes, proving that she has strength and stamina, despite what her critics may say.
Townsend will very much be the underdog against 14th-seeded Suarez Navarro of Spain in the third round, but few would be surprised if she drew inspiration from her coach Zina Garrison, who reached the quarter-finals of the French Open in her very first try, back in 1982. And as Townsend herself said in her on-court interview after the Cornet success, “the sky’s the limit”!