There appeared to be little reason to expect Donald Young to make a deep run at the Citi Open.
The left-handed American arrived at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open on a four-match losing streak. He was 10-13 this season. He hadn't reached the semifinals at any tour-level event in three years.
Young insists he believed in himself — more than he used to. After four victories in a row, three against seeded opponents, Young is back in an ATP semifinal, getting there by beating No. 7 Kevin Anderson 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Friday at the Citi Open.
"Losing's not good, and I was doing a lot of that," Young said. "I didn't want to do that anymore. I wanted to try something else."
Young, ranked 73rd, hadn't made it this far at a tournament since October 2011, when he was the Thailand Open runner-up. Two months earlier, he got to the semifinals in Washington.
When Friday's match ended, Young screamed and slapped his chest with his right palm. Once as high as No. 38, he is projected to get back into the top 50 next week. That would make him the second-highest American man, behind John Isner.
"I feel like we have a lot of good players that are knocking at the door around 60, 70, 80, top 100, that are playing well enough to be top 50," Young said. "It's just about having the right results at the right tournaments at the right time."
He hasn't done that a whole lot, despite having been pegged for greatness as a teenager.
Now 25, Young joked that maybe he's finally at the right age.
One thing he's been working on is taking a more positive approach on court, instead of allowing negative thoughts or energy to hold him back.
"It's still a work in progress. I still slip back every now and then. But more so than not, I'm being a lot more positive," said Young, who is based in Atlanta. "I've tried being negative. It doesn't work. I've had a lot of low times, but positive is working well."
Young will face No. 2 Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., in the semifinals Saturday. Raonic, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last month, ended the surprising run of Steve Johnson, eliminating the American 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Johnson beat the tour's top two servers, Isner and Ivo Karlovic, in his previous two matches, but he couldn't beat the man who ranks third in that category, Raonic, failing to even earn one break point Friday.
No. 6-seeded Richard Gasquet of France reached the semifinals by beating No. 4 Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-1, 6-4. Gasquet faced only one break point, in the final game, and saved it when Nishikori sailed a return long. Next for Gasquet will be No. 10 Santiago Giraldo of Colombia or No. 13 Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver.
In women's action, two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova moved into the semifinals when Vania King withdrew from the tournament with a right hip injury. King also pulled out of next week's tournament in Montreal but doesn't think the injury will prevent her from entering the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 25.
The sixth-seeded Kuznetsova now faces No. 2 Ekaterina Makarova, who beat No. 5 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (3), 6-3. The other women's semifinal is Marina Erakovic of New Zealand against Kurumi Nara of Japan.