©Colette Lewis 2009--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
A year ago, Melanie Oudin lost in the first round of the U.S. Open main draw as a wild card, and playing the junior tournament, lost in the semifinals to Gabriela Paz. A year later, she's beaten Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova back-to-back, coming from a set down on the biggest stage in professional tennis to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open, matching her performance at Wimbledon this year.
At the press conference after her win, the weapon question (framed as a reference to Jelena Jankovic's comments after losing to her at Wimbledon) was again voiced, and here was Oudin's response:
I think the biggest weapon can be mental toughness. It doesn't have to be a stroke or a shot or anything like that. If you're mentally tough out there, you can beat anyone. I think that's what I really did well today and I've done in my past matches. I'm so focused and I fight super hard. So it's not going to be easy to beat me or I'm not going to back down at all.
That attitude is, as you can imagine, attractive to New Yorkers, and there weren't a dozen people watching the Jumbotron outside Ashe today who were actively supporting the 2006 champion, and probably not many more inside Ashe. With each error or winner, the crowd outside groaned or cheered, erupting on match point, then quieting down immediately so they could hear the post match interview with Mary Joe Fernandez. There were tears of joy, and not just from Oudin. It was a tennis community taking a new star under its wing.
The junior draws have been released and it did no favors for the top seeds. Boys No. 1 Yuki Bhambri of India will take on fellow Bollettieri student and Wimbledon finalist Jordan Cox of the U.S. on Sunday, it what is certainly the marquee match on the boys side. Girls top seed Kristina Mladenovic of France will face wild card Asia Muhammad of the U.S. in the other must-see Sunday match.
Unseeded Laura Robson did not land in an awkward place; she plays unseeded Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, also on Sunday. In addition to Muhammad, other U.S. girls playing Sunday are wild cards Alexandra Cercone, Jacqueline Cako, Julia Boserup and Lauren Davis, as well as No. 4 seed Sloane Stephens. U.S. boys playing their first round matches are Tennys Sandgren who goes against No. 2 seed Daniel Berta, Mitchell Frank, Junior Ore, No. 16 seed Denis Kudla, and wild cards Chase Buchanan, Jack Sock, Bob van Overbeek, and Gonzales Austin.
The U.S. qualifiers today--Sekou Bangoura Jr., Courtney Dolehide and Noel Scott--are likely to play Monday, or even Tuesday, due to players still competing in the Repentigny, Canada Grade 1. Nicole Gibbs again finished runnerup, losing 7-6(1), 6-2 to Miyabi Inoue of Japan. Julien Obry of France won the boys title, over Agustin Velotti of Argentina. For complete results, see the ITF junior site.
For complete draws and order of play for Sunday, see usopen.org.
Saturday, September 5, 2009