Victoria Duval of the USA, who is 17, leaps in celebration after defeating Samantha Stosur.
(Photo: Susan Mullane, USA TODAY Sports)
NEW YORK (USA TODAY) - The voice is tiny, but there was nothing small about American Victoria Duval's first Grand Slam win.
The 17-year-old qualifier, ranked No. 296, pulled off the biggest upset of the 2013 U.S. Open with a come-from-behind victory against 2011 champion Samantha Stosur on Tuesday.
Trailing by a set and a break at Louis Armstrong Stadium, Duval showed poise beyond her years by hanging with the No. 11 seed from Australia.
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When she cracked a crosscourt forehand winner on her fourth match point to close out the 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 first-round win, she hopped in the air with her arms extended as the partisan crowd erupted into cheers.
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"It was a big moment, big stage, not easy closing any match out, let alone a past U.S. Open champion," said Duval, who received a wild card into qualifying and next faces Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.
"I don't even remember match point," she added. "I guess I was really happy. I mean, you could tell by all the jumping I did."
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Born in Miami but raised in Haiti until age 8, Duval culminated a promising junior career by winning last year's USTA 18-and-under girls championships to earn a wild card into the U.S. Open main draw (this month she lost in the national quarterfinals).
In her first Grand Slam appearance, Duval lost to three-time U.S. Open winner Kim Clijsters in her last tournament before retiring.
In an on-court interview, Duval expressed gratitude to her mentor, Billie Jean King, and her father, who had flown in for the match.
"There's a lot to be thankful for," she said in a high-pitched voice that makes her sound even younger. "I don't take anything for granted."
Duval and two cousins were held hostage in Haiti when she was a 7-year-old, a situation she said she preferred not to remember.
Duval, who has a bright smile and called herself "goofy" off the court, said King sent her a text of congratulations and that she had heard American rapper Lil Wayne messaged her on Twitter, though she hasn't yet signed up to become a member.
"I'm going to go hit that up," she said. "Maybe I have to create one and be like @weezythankyou."
Stosur praised Duval for her potent forehand and holding her nerve in the final game but said she made far too many unforced errors - 56 to Duval's 35. She led in aces 9-0.
"I'm not going to be a sore loser and say she didn't do anything," said Stosur, who beat No. 2 Victoria Azarenka to win her fourth career title in Carlsbad, Calif., last month. "I think I certainly helped her out there today, that's for sure."
Said Duval: "Although she didn't play nearly her best today, I played amazing, so I'll take it."
Joining Duval in the second round Tuesday were American women Christina McHale, Alison Riske and wild card Sachia Vickery, the U.S. girls 18U champion.
Duval was ebullient, bubbly, goofy and thoughtful in her post-match press conference. Here are some of the highlights:
Q. Do you remember the moment you fell in love with tennis?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Yeah. Actually, my brothers played. So I was a ballerina before tennis. I would just run around and hit the ball. I could never hit the strings. My brother would go to this tournament in Santo Domingo every year. The tournament director said, Your daughter comes and sits on your lap. Why don't you have her play in the tournament?
I was 7. I had no idea how to keep score, nothing. It was a 10-and-under tournament, I think, and I won it. I had no idea where to stand on the court or anything. After that, my mom was, Okay, you have to choose now. Tennis seemed to be appropriate.
Q. For people who are getting familiar with you, how would you describe your personality on and off the court?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Uhm, I am very goofy off the court, so... I think I'm very much of a child at heart.
Uhm, on the court, you have to be a warrior because that's just the sport we are in. You know, off the court I think it's important to have fun and be a good role model for other people. Just, I don't know, have fun. My motto is 'have fun.'
Q. How did that mentality manifest itself in tonight's match?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Well, it was definitely more important in the closing-out stages and in the tougher stages, because I wasn't thinking about the score or anything because I didn't want to get too wrapped up in what else was going on.
Just staying focused I think is the most important thing.
Q. We're in the interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
VICTORIA DUVAL: Uh-huh.
Q. Were you aware about 20 years ago he was in a protest for the rights of Haitian refugees in Washington and was arrested at that time?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Who was?
Q. Arthur Ashe.
VICTORIA DUVAL: Okay. I didn't know that, no. That's fantastic. Was he in this chair?
Q. I don't think he was around when this stadium was built.
VICTORIA DUVAL: Okay.
Q. He was at the US Open the day before that occurred.
VICTORIA DUVAL: Thank you. That's a great fact right there.
Q. Your dad went back to Haiti during the earthquake while you were in Florida?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Yeah, we were in Atlanta at the time. But, yeah, he flew back the day before it happened, so...
Q. Talk about the role Harry Kitchen had in your life.
VICTORIA DUVAL: Yeah, we're forever grateful to them. If it wasn't for them, my dad definitely 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.
Q. Tell the story. How did he come to send the helicopter for your family?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Well, they wouldn't let planes in because there was no runway. They I guess looked online for a couple hours. It was the only plane they actually let in Haiti. My dad, they found him after 11 hours. It was incredible. I mean, I don't know. I'm so grateful, I don't know how he managed.
Q. How is your dad today? Is he able to work?
VICTORIA DUVAL: He's not. But he's improving so much. Emotionally it was hard at first. But he's as happy as he's ever been. He had a couple surgeries that helped take the pain away. We're just so happy that, you know, he's in a good state of mind right now. He's just here with us. So it's incredible.
Q. Talk about your experience with the crowd. They were chanting 'USA' the third set. What was that like for you?
VICTORIA DUVAL: It was amazing. I felt like I was on Ashe honestly. They were so loud. It was incredible. The crowd helped me a lot.
Q. Do you think Victoria Duval is going to become a tennis star?
VICTORIA DUVAL: That's what I'm working for. If God will let it, then let's go.
Q. How much were you aware of the success of Sloane and Madison and Taylor? Do you pay attention to that and get inspiration?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Yeah. I mean, we're obviously trying to make American tennis become what it used to be. We're all working towards the same goal. We're all a tight-knit group. Helping each other is important. We're all doing amazing. I think we're on an amazing path.
Q. What do you know about Hantuchova next?
VICTORIA DUVAL: I know she hits really hard, so try to counterattack maybe.
Douglas Robson, USA TODAY Sports