Coria isn't a seed anymore, Scott.
I just came across this article:
BRICKER: Not just hot air - Sweeting's good
Gator will face Coria in 1st Slam.
Published August 26, 2006
NEW YORK · Ryan Sweeting blew air through his closed lips, a sort of non-verbal way of saying, "Better believe it."
The question: Is Harold Solomon working you hard over there at the Lauderdale Tennis Club? The answer: Air blown through lips ... followed by a couple of reinforcing remarks.
Like, "They're killing me," and "I go home and just fall into bed."
It's mid-afternoon Friday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, four days before Sweeting, 19, plays his first U.S. Open (indeed, his first Grand Slam) main draw match, and we're taking a very long walk back from practice court P-16, which only seems as if it's halfway to New Haven.
It has been almost one year since Sweeting, unseeded and unknown, rocketed through six consecutive matches to win the U.S. Open juniors, giving him, if you'll excuse the silly comparison, the second-longest Open winning streak behind Roger Federer's 14.
The scrawny kid from the Rio Vista neighborhood just south of downtown Fort Lauderdale still is 6 feet 4 but has added 15 pounds, and though Solomon and his coaching bud, Andy Brandi, might be killing him with long, demanding workouts, the kid is secretly loving it.
"I had no idea a year ago what it would take to win on the tour," Sweeting said. "I just thought it would happen for me. Now I know, and I'm committed."
In fact, he knows enough that he's contemplating dropping out of the University of Florida and turning professional. Don't read too much into that because, obviously, he's also contemplating going back to Gatorville. The point is he's progressed to a point where it's an open question.
A year ago, he was much too immature physically to hit the road with the men who play tennis for a living, so off he went to Gainesville. Today, he's no Rafael Nadal. But you can see how much more solid he looks, especially above the belt.
And the physicality is showing up in his results. He is 13-5 this year in Futures events (the deep bush leagues), 1-2 in Challengers (a cut below the regular tour) and 1-2 in ATP matches with a win over Justin Gimelstob at Washington D.C.
That's hardly enough for an American Express gold card, but it is enough to start looking at him as a serious prospect. Besides, he's got something you can't teach -- size. And at 6-4 and about 175 pounds, he's not lacking for punch in his shots.
It's up to Solomon and Brandi now to massage his brain into a tennis weapon. Top 100? Probably. Top 50? We'll see.
This has not been an altogether smooth year for Sweeting, who was booted off the Florida team after being stopped on campus for speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and being illegally in possession of the attention deficit disorder drug Adderall.
He worked an advantageous deal with the State Attorney's office and has been extremely contrite since the bad publicity scorched his name.
"I think I've shown that I can come back after being knocked down," Sweeting said. And he has.
He's drawn Guillermo Coria in the first round, and that's a good opponent for him. Coria, who once came within a whisker of winning the French Open, has fallen to No. 42 after a succession of injuries.
Friday, he had double practice sessions with his new coach, former Chilean Davis Cup captain Horacio de la Pena, but you couldn't tell whether his ailing shoulder was ready to stand up to a Grand Slam.
Coria has gone out in the first round of six of his past seven tournaments and twice retired with shoulder injuries. Still, this match will only add to Sweeting's education.
Unlike Coria, Sweeting is in excellent fitness, and that will be an advantage in this opening match. They might be killing him over at the Lauderdale Tennis Club, but he looks very much alive for the first Grand Slam of his life.