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New York Minute


September 8, 2009 12:43 PM

Oudin Steals the Show at U.S. Open


The Yankees have opened up a season-high nine game lead on the Boston Red Sox in race for the American League East.
The Giants and Jets haven’t started their seasons yet, and the Mets … wait, are the Mets still playing?
So it is against that backdrop that a 17-year-old girl from Marietta, Ga., has seized the September spotlight on the New York scene. She is enjoying her tennis Coming Out Party on the world's biggest stage.
When Melanie Oudin defeated Nadia Petrova in three tough sets in the U.S. Open Monday, she did more than advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. She created a buzz in the New York consciousness, which is difficult to do for a women’s tennis player not named Williams or Sharapova.
Very few people outside of the tennis community knew of Oudin before the U.S. Open fortnight began, but with victories over No. 4 Elena Dementieva, three-time major champion Maria Sharapova and now Petrova, Oudin has become the “it” girl.
“It's really a great feeling. I mean, to know like everyone stood up when I had my first match point,” Oudin said about the crowd support during Monday’s victory. “Just when I won the second set, a standing ovation. I mean, it's crazy how many people are cheering for me and supporting me.”
Oudin was impressive against Petrova after dropping the first set, 6-1. She won the second set, 7-6 (2), and captured the third set, 6-3. Oudin doesn’t throw a lot of bombs with her serve – she did not have any aces – but uses her quickness to get to balls many others would give up on.
“You know, I think it's just mentally I'm staying in there with them the whole time, and I'm not giving up at all,’’ Oudin said. “So they're going to have to if they're going to beat me, they're going to beat me, because I'm not going to go anywhere.”
Oudin is the first U.S. teenager to make the Open quarterfinals since Venus Williams in 1999. She has drawn comparisons to Tracy Austin, who won the U.S. Open as a 16-year-old and Chris Evert, who reached the semifinals as a 17-year-old.
More importantly, she has provided a spark to the U.S. Open. There are no Americans left in the men’s draw, and Venus Williams has been knocked out on the women’s side. Serena Williams is in the opposite bracket from Oudin, who will meet ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.
Whatever the outcome there, Oudin has shown that she isn’t going any where. She’s a new face, but she also brings a fresh perspective. She writes “Believe” on her sneakers before her match, and has shown that she does indeed believe.
And belongs.
”Going into the tournament, I did believe that I could compete with these girls, but it was just figuring out a way to win in these tough matches and these pressure situations actually coming through and winning,’’ Oudin said. “So now, even if I get a set down, I still, like, believe in myself and my game. I know that if I fight as hard as I can, do the best I can, hopefully I can do it.”

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