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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Oudin Upsets Jankovic, but U.S. Juniors Have Rocky Start to Wimbledon; Britton Blogs for USTA

Seventeen-year-old American qualifier Melanie Oudin earned her first victory over a Top Ten player with a 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-2 decision over former world No. 1 and No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in Saturday's third round at Wimbledon, and New York media has taken notice.

"American teen Melanie Oudin stuns Wimbledon with upset of Jankovic" says Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News, a publication not known for its tennis coverage. In addition to Chris Clarey, who first wrote about Oudin after her second round win and again today, the New York Times has sports columnist Harvey Araton digging into her background in his entry "Oudin’s Odyssey to Fourth Round Stirs American Optimism".

Greg Garber of espn.com, who has been following Oudin since two years ago at Wimbledon, has this story about her, which contains an interesting bit of history:

Oudin, from Marietta, Ga., is the youngest American to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon since 17-year-old Jennifer Capriati made the quarterfinals here in 1993. Additionally, Oudin is the youngest American to reach the fourth round at any Grand Slam event since 17-year-old Serena Williams won the 1999 U.S. Open.

He also mentions, as does Araton, the rather ungracious remarks of Jankovic regarding Oudin, who described the woman ranked 118 places below her with the words:

"She cannot hurt you with anything," Jankovic said. "She doesn't have any weapons from what I've seen."

Apart from the irony of Jankovic saying this, as one about whom those same caveats are made, it doesn't particularly jibe with what I saw. Oudin had 38 winners compared to Jankovic's 13, and while I wouldn't deny that Jankovic played badly, Oudin made the most of the opportunity she was given.

The complete interview with Oudin is available here via wimbledon.org.

The other American qualifier in the third round, Jesse Levine, wasn't able to join Oudin in the second week. He lost to No. 19 seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. But Levine did do an interview, available on wimbledon.org, that gives some nice detail on his current work with Sgt. Keith Williams, who has been involved with many juniors the past two years also.

In today's opening round of junior play, only one of the six U.S. competitors managed to advance. No. 16 seed Evan King has now lost his last three first round matches in Europe, when he fell to Belgian Arthur De Greef 6-3, 6-2. No. 12 seed Denis Kudla twice served for his match with Hiroyasu Ehara of Japan, at 5-4 in the second and 5-4 in third, but he couldn't convert either time and lost 3-6, 7-5, 8-6. Mitchell Frank lost to Joze Kovalik of Slovakia 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, and No. 9 seed Christina McHale was eliminated by Yana Buchina of Russia 6-4, 6-3. Nicole Gibbs and No. 11 seed Silvia Njiric of Croatia battled for over two-and-a-half hours today, but it was Njiric who came out on top, by a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

Tennys Sandgren rescued the day from complete disaster with a routine 6-3, 6-2 win over Adrien Puget of France. The remaining eight U.S. juniors will play their first round matches on Monday. The schedule is available here and the draws, which include the doubles draws, here.

Roehampton champion Devin Britton is blogging for usta.com this week at Wimbledon. His first entry, detailing the rather Spartan conditions the Wimbledon junior players are subject to, can be found here.


Malcolm Dunbar said...

Is it some sort of "head games" that some of these players do, when they refuse to admit that they were just outplayed, instead of offering up lane excuses? I know the Williams sisters have done this, and now Jankovic today. Not to be sexist, but do any male players do this? I find it very unsportsmanlike, and tacky.

Austin said...

Is Jankovic joking? Oudin did nothing but pound the ball from what we saw on tv. So unless she was pushing when the cameras werent on shes just a sore loser. Then again we all know how much of a baby/drama queen Jelena is.

Jelena said...

Jelena has this persona that she is all smiles on the court and a nice person off the court but it's almost the opposite.

She is one of the most disliked girls on the womens tour. We just saw her true colors in the Oudin match and in the interview room. She couldn't hide it forever.

the old pro said...

It may not be Wimbledon Junior, but there is a pretty nice Final in the Chico Futures today: Ryan Harrison and Filip Krajinovic. Also, Harrison beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in the SFs. Three of the world's top 92s in the SFs and both of the Finalists. Nice field also. Junior success has almost no correlation to success at the Professional level where weapons become increasingly important and it is a very difficult transition from the Juniors to the Futures for 17 year old boys, so this is really good stuff!

UKtennis said...

You said Kulda lost 6-8 in the third. Do they play the third out in the juniors. Enjoyed Britton's blog but am I correct that there is only 1 USTA coach for 9 boys? Last year the USTA sent 2 coaches for 4 players. That can't be right.

As for the old pro, agree w/ success in the juniors does not translate to success in the pros. Great to see Harrison playing so well after all the months off. Also interesting to see that two of the hot juniors right now, Oudin and Britton were written off by the USTA last year. Patrick Mac was quoted in Sports Illustrated last year saying that Oudin would not make it as a top pro because of size. Well she just beat the former #1. Also with the 91s it was all about Chase and Rhyne and look who seems to be popping through. All this says is that the USTA really needs to change its narrow approach and financially support all the top juniors and if they want a cut-off, top 15 USTA , top 50 ITF.

Colette Lewis said...

Yes, they play out all singles at Wimbledon (doubles in juniors I'm not sure; they played it out last year) even in the qualifying. Bob van Overbeek won his place in the main draw with a 13-11 third set score.

Jon King said...

Well, I don't like Jankovic but she is right. Oudin does not have weapons. Weapons are not "pounding the ball" or "hitting 38 winners". Every top 200 pro can pound the ball and get on a roll of winners in a single tournament. Weapons are a killer serve or killer speed or the ability to consistently hit rocket forehands and backhands within 3 inches of the lines. Oudin has none of these, she simply is having a great tournament and has snuck up on some folks. Not a prediction of the future at all.

Jankovic was clearly not herself, an assistant was overheard in the locker room saying she was having severe cramps from some women's issues. Whatever it was, she was not even at 75%.

Oudin is a nice player but most likely this will be her time in the sun. She has all the markings of a player who hangs out between 60-120 her entire career. That is nothing to be ashamed about, but she is not the future American star. 5'5" players (they added an inch to her size) who are not great athletes like Henin can't do it with smoke and mirrors, they are what they are.

Also her coach is so typically arrogant...we don't need better athletes playing tennis? Nonsense, of course having our best athletes into tennis, IN ADDITION to the talented kids he refers too, would help a ton. He speaks like the voice of the problem of American tennis, not the solution.

Malcolm Dunbar said...

I could also see that Jankovic was not herself at times in this match. My issue was that she had to announce to the world about her "woman problems", and the lack of weapons of Oudin, so that she could make an excuse for herself, and diminish the accomplishment of the young American. If she had lost to V or S Williams, perhaps she would have just mentioned the period, and not the "weapons" issue?

Is it so hard to just take your beating, and move on?

Brian said...

Jon King, Wanna talk face to face or hide behind the zootennis facade, do i see you grinding it out here day to day or sitting back home acting like you know it all, until i see you out here with a player keep your arrogant comments to yourself. We are out there grinding it everyday and Melanie gives of her best every time she competes and that is all that matters. When you get to 75 in the world you can talk to me you pompous a####le.

Brian said...

Jon King, don't normally waste my time talking to ignorant wannabe tennis players but most of the American players I know put themselves on the line every time they compete and with the sport being so global it is very difficult to break thru. We have more than enough talent in the USA to compete and if you had any common sense you would realize that the sport is cyclical and the USA will be back. Any time you wanna play Melanie for money you let me know, her fee for playing a####les is 10,000 a set.

John said...

Mr. King -- I would normally applaud your thoughts and posts here.......but this last one smacks of "too close to the situation". In my opinion, you should just keep that particular opinion to yourself because it makes you seem very biased and arrogant - and I know personally you are neither of those.

Also, I'm assuming the "women's issues" is her monthly cycle and if you do the math, nearly 1/3 of the women that make the quarters of a two-week event have to deal with that and this is the (very) first time I've heard a player mention that after a match. If she has a team then they would deal with that before during and after that through fitness and OTC treatments, etc. But using that excuse fits Jankovic's profile......regardless, i would hope that you let Melanie's tennis keep doing the talking vs. you.

love-tennis said...

I am so proud of Melanie. Let's cheer her on, not knock her down. My heavens people, life is too short for all these negatives. Let's get up and give her a cheer.

Look at the positive side of people, not the 'they're not good enough'. Look at Melanie's footwork and train your child to have that footwork. Teach your child to have that polite professionalism that she has displayed. Give yourself a dose of her enthusiasm and zeal for life.

king who said...

Jon King's pathetic comments don't deserve acknowledgement. I wish Brian had not replied. He is obviously not a coach, hopefully not a parent or even a player. Apparently he writes to satisfy his ego and see himself in print because as a tennis talent evaluator he is a zero.

Nathan Pasha said...

This is hilarious

Eugene said...

King who said, Brian is probably Brian deVilliers, Melanie Oudin's coach, so you should keep your ignorant comments to yourself.

tennisgirl. said...

I am a junior player and this is such a joke. Melanie Oudin is one of the nicest girls out there and carries herself extremely well for her age. All of the parents on here who are insulting here should really back off and be respectful. You should be glad that there is finally a nice solid girl our there who is representing American tennis really well. Regardless of whatever happened out on the court with that Jankovic woman if you dont have anything nice to say you all should keep your mouths to yourself. But do not insult Melanie. She deserves it and is a great girl.

Malcolm Dunbar said...

With all due respect to the junior players who have commented here, I believe almost everyone on this thread has been very supportive of the young American Oudin, with the exception of the blogger who calls himself Jon King. So when you say "all of the parents on here", I would say that is a drastic generalization.

abc said...


I do believe tennisgirl means any parent who has been insulting Melanie, not all the parents who have commented. But it was probably directed more towards Jon King.

And congrats to Melanie for her breakthrough. No doubt she is one of the hardest working juniors and deserves this.