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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two Wins for King Make it Worth the Wait; Robson Tops Embree

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

Evan King finally took the court on Tuesday, having spent the past two days watching his friends play while his opponent, Argentina's Agustin Velotti, received the extra recovery time after reaching last Saturday's finals in the Canadian Open Grade 1.

It was worth the wait however, as the unseeded 17-year-old took out the No. 5 seed 7-6(4), 6-4, then less than two hours later teamed with Denis Kudla to upset the No. 1 seeded doubles team.

Against Velotti, King got off to a shaky start, losing his serve in the opening game, but he recovered quickly, got the break back and played an excellent tiebreaker. King gave credit to his serve for allowing him to frustrate Velotti to the point of a racquet abuse warning.

"I was serving extremely well today," said King, who also played his first round match on Tuesday in last year's Open, losing a heartbreaker when he couldn't convert match points. "I'm trying to focus on being more aggressive in general, because I think I play better when I'm forcing the action a little bit."

King used an effective slice approach shot and some precise volleys to keep Velotti from getting too much rhythm. At 4-4 in the second set, King got a break, but suddenly his first serve deserted him, and at 15-40, Velotti had two chances to pull even. But with a service winner and a devastating slice that produced an error, King brushed those break points aside, and after a backhand winner, he held a match point.

"He didn't want to give me the match in the 5-4 game, he kind of changed his strategy, making me hit a ton of balls, and not going for much," said King, who was due to start classes at the University of Michigan today. "I was pretty happy that I stepped up a little bit and ended the match with a forehand winner, so that was pretty cool."

King said the experience he gained playing in both the French and Wimbledon Junior Championships this summer helped put last year's disappointing loss out of his mind. He didn't have much time to dwell on his singles upset, however, as he was back on court for his first round doubles match, teaming with Kudla against top seeds Yuki Bhambri of India and Liang-Chi Huang of Chinese Taipei. King and Kudla took a 3-0 lead, lost seven straight games, but ended up winning the second set 6-2 and the match tiebreaker 10-6, after losing the first set 6-3.

"Yuki was beating us, so we tried to change our strategy and hit to the other guy," King said. "We loosened up a little bit and played a really good tiebreaker. It was pretty cool, it was pretty full out there with the crowd, and we were having fun."

Kudla, the No. 16 seed in singles, won his second round match against qualifier Mikhail Biryukov of Russia 7-5, 6-3, finishing with a flourish by hitting three aces in succession to close it out. He couldn't recall ever doing that before, although he does remember once hitting six aces to start a match.

Kudla is joined in the third round by wild card Jack Sock, who defeated Stanislav Poplavskyy of the Ukraine 6-1, 6-4, and Raymond Sarmiento, a 7-6(2), 6-1 winner over Filip Horansky of Slovakia. Sarmiento was down a set point serving at 5-6 in the first set, but something clicked and he played inspired tennis from that stage on. His point construction and execution was flawless, and he made a very good player look overmatched with his variety.

Tennys Sandgren and Matt Kandath were unable to follow their upsets in the first round with wins in the second. Sandgren lost to unseeded Sebastian Lavie of New Zealand 7-6(4), 7-6(5) and Kandath fell to unseeded Arthur De Greef of Belgium 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Wild card Dennis Novikov lost his first round match to Tiago Fernandes of Brazil 6-2, 6-1.

After a very good day on Monday, the U.S. girls had an equally bad day Tuesday, losing five of six matches, not including an all-American contest between wild cards Asia Muhammad and Gail Brodsky, won by Muhammad 6-3, 6-4.

No. 7 seed Lauren Embree was up 4-1 in the final set against Laura Robson of Great Britain, but she lost the last five games, allowing the 2008 Wimbledon champion to advance to the third round with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory. Robson's forehand began to warm up in the sixth game--she said she "got more rhythm on it,"--and she broke Embree at love to get back on serve at 3-4. A forehand winner serving at 40-30 in the next game gave Robson all the momentum she needed and Embree didn't win another point in the final two games.

"I was thinking how did I win that second set so easy," Robson said, when asked what her thoughts were down 1-4 in the third. "And then I tried to bring that into the next few games."

On the court adjacent to Robson and Embree, No. 16 seed Beatrice Capra and Anna Orlik of Belarus battled for nearly three hours before Capra emerged with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win. Capra was down a break 2-1 in the third set, but took the next four games before Orlik could hold, and only then after saving three match points. Capra closed it out however, and after a double fault to open the final game, she served well and stayed in the points until Orlik overhit her forehand.

Three other U.S. girls fell to seeded players. Tenth seed Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands defeated wild card Grace Min 6-1, 6-4; Mallory Burdette lost to No. 9 seed Daria Gavrilova of Russia 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 and No. 15 seed Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway downed Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 7-6(3). Wild card Ester Goldfeld was beaten by qualifier Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.

With the first round of doubles complete, there are five girls teams from the U.S. remaining and four boys teams, not including Harry Fowler, who is playing with Ahmed El Menshawy of Great Britain.

For complete draws and results, see usopen.org, where you can also find Josh Rey's report on the junior action today.


Man in the Moon said...

To: John King, Kim etc

A Star is Born

This is my opening remark in about two years - I am sure Austin and his buddies recall who I am - BTW Austin - I hope all is well!!

The only difference between MO (Melaine Oudin) and Donald Young, Harrison, etc are RESULTS.

The US Open is the biggest,grandest, most seen tournament on the planet- yes, a few people who live across the pond might think the Tournament that begins with W is bigger-- but in any event the USO is certainly # 1 or 2 in the World.

Any player that can deal with what goes on there and make it to the 1/4's regardless of size, game, strokes, movement etc deserves all that he / she receives.

In the pros, the only thing that counts is the W. Al Davis owner / GM of the Oakland Raiders said it best "just win baby, win -- no less than Vince L. said " Winning is everything".

In the pros no one is interested in excuses - or reasons why someone won or lost-- just the Win-- that is it --plain and simple.

MO has achieved beyond belief -- on the court - and no one can take that away from her.

Austin and many others on this site -- 3 -4 years ago -- got into many discussions with me about Donald Young -- yes, Austin was in good company- The New York Times, USTA, and just about everyone on this site thought Young was going to be the next Great Hope of America much the same as people are now talking about Harrison.

For what ever reasons - I disagreed with Austin and everyone else-- now it seems that everyone agrees DY is not going to make it and the jury is still out on Harrison - but MO is here to stay.

It is clearly obvious that MO (barring injury)is here to stay.

It is not luck that she has won the matches as Jon and Kim suggest- fire power, pushing, size so what -- she wins and will continue to win.

America is great at handing out the trophies and all the accolades that go with it prior to the player achieving -- well MO has achieved regardless of what happens today.

Rod said...

I am really looking forward to the Oudin/Wozniacki match. It seems to me Wozniacki hits harder and serves better but Oudin hits deeper and moves better. In fact I think Oudin moves much better.

Regardless who wins, they both have had a great tournament and are a very welcome breath of fresh air to the WTA.

Regarding Ryan Harrison, I don't understand why he is missing from all of these opportunities to prove himself. It is like he is trying to sneak into the ATP through the back door. There is no back door in tennis.

Jon King said...

So no matter what the topic....no matter how many kids have nice wins....no matter what Collette posts about...every day the first posts are all about Oudin. And just various names, never actual identities.

Interesting, me thinks Ms. Oudin's family/friends is all over these posts!

Honestly, who cares what others say? You like her game, great. I don't like the whole vibe...the country club coach telling us how to develop players, the 15 year old boyfriend when she turns 18 in 2 weeks, the monotonous backhand slices, the weak serve. I just don't dig the whole package and don't want that to be American tennis. Sorry.

Stephen said...

I'm going to side with Man in the Moon on this one. Oudin is, plain and simple, a fighter who knows how to win. Period.

The fact that she is Michael Chang to the Williams sisters' Pete Sampras should not diminish at all what she does.

Man in the Moon said...

Jon, Jon, Jon

I can assure you that I am not, in any way shape or form related to or in the MO camp.

Frankly, I typically only follow the junior boys, men's tennis and the ATP.

I watched MO play in Florida this year, while attending an ATP event and happened to catch her match.

I have been around this site from the very beginning and took a couple of years off from posting at zootennis.

For any of the old timers here at zootennis I am sure they recall my sometime heated exchanges.

You are certainly entitled to your thoughts and remarks but comments like and I quote " Honestly, who cares what others say? You like her game, great. I don't like the whole vibe...the country club coach telling us how to develop players, the 15 year old boyfriend when she turns 18 in 2 weeks, the monotonous backhand slices, the weak serve. I just don't dig the whole package and don't want that to be American tennis. Sorry."

If that is the best you got -- you got nothing -- sorry for the grammar -- But I am sure you got my point!!!

My response is " She just wins" and at this point in the story - American Tennis can sure use a boost.

The men are in for a long, hard road ahead -- possibly because there are so many young players (age 19-22) that are already in the top 10 -- that guys like Harrison, etc will have a very, very tough time to crack the elite on the ATP -- but that is another entirely different story.

In the meantime MO has a lot of MOmentum - and she is going to be here for a long time and I really enjoy her game / fight / poise / excitement / and most of all the fun she is having on the court.

She has captured the heart of America with or without Jon King, and has transcended sport - i.e. the Today Show, Good morning America and is off the sports page and onto the front page of many newspapers across the country.

The major difference is she has already accomplished via wins not what is going to happen -- but what already has happened -- not like some of the male players -- where they put the cart before the horse-- and frankly that might have hurt the likes of DY - by reading and more importantly believing all his press clippings.

I know that I should not have brought up DY - but I took so much heat for 3 - 4 years about him and I was right on the $$$$

Eric Amend said...

Jon King,

You must be doing this on purpose because no one in their right mind would continue to post the inaccuracies that you have in the past week without wanting the attention you bring on yourself, or it's because you just like to say things to make people react.

On the contrary, I am NOT using a pseudonym which, ONCE AGAIN, contradicts your post when you state "just various names, never actual identities" and shows everyone your lack of credibility because of those inaccuracies.

Also, if you really knew Melanie's coach, you would know that Brian de Villiers isn't a "country club" coach because he has developed other players in the past, Lindsay Lee-Waters who achieved a WTA ranking of 33 being one of them, so he does know what he's talking about when he speaks about the weakness and determination of the American junior tennis player.

My only fathomable guess that you could think Brian is a some lucky "country club coach" is because, logically, that is where many teaching pros work AND he wears that hat that looks like it's from the Australian outback, which a "country club pro" might wear because he is in the sun all day.

Now we come to understand that it's the "whole vibe", that you actually don't like about Melanie, including her younger boyfriend, and that means that you're just prejudice because of what you see besides what Melanie's game looks like to you. I'll agree with you on one point, if only partially, in that her slice isn't aesthetically pleasing to the observer YET, it's effective enough for her to use on a consistent basis and that's all that matters.

AND, since when does a younger boyfriend have anything to do with the ability to play tennis??

A. Meek said...

Anyone who thinks Oudin is a pusher is crazy. Amanda Coetzer and Sanchez Vicario were pushers, Oudin can straighten the ball out when she needs to. Her slice, even though it looks "pushy", is actually effective against players who don't like the change of pace.

The national press is trying to make her out to be a country club player. Don't be fooled, RCS is a USTA training facility not the Piedmont Driving Club. DeVilliers is not a "country club coach" - if someone thinks that they don't know anything about him.

Hopefully her success will inspire the other young players trying to break through.

Go Melanie!

Pat Harrison said...


As you said there is no back door so how do you sneak in. If you are going to make it in Pro tennis then in my opinion it is more important to learn to be a professsional as soon as you are capable of competing at that level. Whether he won the Junior U.S. Open or lost 1st rd. is totally irrelevant to making it as a Pro. Pros don't care what you did in juniors. I've made him prove himself at every level before moving up.
I made him play juniors the rest of the year last year after qualifying in Houston and winning a rd. over a top 100 opponent in an A.T.P. event. The only exception was 2 Futures events in Fla. where he lost 1st rd. in both. I knew he wasn't ready then just as I know he is ready now to play professionally full time.
I know he will take his lumps and lose 1st rd. sometimes. There is a learning curve at each level. With each level you move up it takes a little more time as the competition gets better and better. He will continue to play Futures and Challengers and EARN his way up.
I have seen way too many players in the recent past waffle back and forth between the Juniors and Pros and it doesn't seem to have helped them. In a lot of cases it seems to have hurt them.
Nick and I are simply doing what I know is best for my kids. It doesnt mean it is the right way for other kids and that they should take the same path. There are many paths to take and this is the right one for my kids.
One last thing to remember. When these kids try to please everyone by mixing in some junior events with a full Pro schedule then they end up breaking down physically and mentally because you simply can't play that much without taking time off once in a while.
I hope this explains our reasoning a little bit.

avadon said...

Melanie Oudin is for real. I don't know exactly how to define real, but she is on her way to creating a nice career for herself. When faced with baseline pace, she has an uncanny ability to go from what would be an otherwise defensive posture to actually hurting her opponent with a penetrating reply. Great balance, footwork, anticipation, and her resilient attitude should allow her to be a top fifteen player for many years to come. Her serve might be the one thing that holds her back as it provides a sort of cushion for most of the games elite on troublesome days. Her days on the court might get long when her opponents are getting one or two free points a service game while she has to gut out every one of hers. She was broken eight times against Sharapova, and yes she broke back just as many times, but the fact that Sharapova double-faulted twenty-one times can't be discounted. I doubt Oudin will ever play another match where that happens. There is little doubt that she is great for American tennis, but unfortunately the public will measure her success short-term and long-term by her ability to challenge for Grand Slam titles. I don't think she has the firepower off the serve to put up 5,6,7 wins in a row.

The Dude said...

I gather that New York is too expensive a place to hang out for a week to play the Junior US Open for glory after Britton and Harrison lost in the USO. Harrison should have play the Zoo for the wild card to the main so he could have picked up the $19,000 for first round losers.

justthefacts said...

Jon King sleep well tonight..Melanie finally lost. Keep in mind though, to someone with the "style" of play that you are constantly critical of. Oudin would have done much better against Kuznetsova.

Jon King said...

I am ashamed of American tennis and its commentators. Oudin's game is mediocre with boat loads of holes. She is about 5'5" and maybe really 5'4", she has no serve, she wants to play 10 feet in back of the baseline with no power. She has zero concept how to use angles or construct points.

And the US Open announcers went on and on about her with no comments about these holes. In the quest for an American story they gave away their ethics.

Look Oudin had a nice summer but IS NOT for real. She is a nice club player who would have lost in the 1st or 2nd round except this is a very down year for women's tennis. She could not hold the top 20 players socks in a good year.

She will never, ever be past the 3rd round of any major again. Thank goodness that debacle is done.

Bill said...

Jon King - you are officially a douchebag. Indeed, the debacle is done.

Brent said...

Jon King - in the immortal words of George Constanza...'the jerk store called and they are running out of you'. Your comments left the land of analysis a while back and now you are firmly planted in the pure mean-spiritedness. Melanie was a feel good story. Maybe she'll carve out a place in the top 20 - maybe she won't. She made a nice run and it was fun to watch. Say hello to your two buddies watching the Muppets.

Colette Lewis said...

I'm closing the comments on the topic of Melanie for this tournament. I don't believe there's anything to be gained from further comments from those, who I agree, have little insight and credibility when discussing the aspects of her game. And if you are unable to admire her competitive spirit, there are probably other forums where you would be more comfortable.