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U.S OPEN: Oudin’s Sursprising Run Comes to an End

  Melanie Oudin’s mantra had proliferated by the time she returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night, this time for her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

 The motivational message, “Believe,” which until now had been reserved for her colorful tennis shoes, could now be found written in yellow on T-shirts worn by her friends, family and coach Brian de Villiers in the players’ box.

In just 10 days, Oudin has turned her winning combination of wide-eyed, 17-year-old charm and steely-eyed competitive fire into a growth industry: one that has propelled her from the relative obscurity of the outside courts to four straight matches on the biggest showcourt in Grand Slam tennis .

Not long ago, she was the one seeking autographs instead of dealing with a thicket of extended markers and programs. Only a few days ago, she was practicing without a special security detail and without television cameras for escorts.

Life changes fast when you claw back to beat three seeded Russians in a row at the United States Open, including Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova.

And Oudin did her earnest, come-on-barking best to rally once more against the world’s highest ranked teenager, the No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

But there would be no emotional, crowd-pleasing comeback this time as Wozniacki won the first set and then, for a change, closed out the second, too. She won 6-2, 6-2 in 1 hour 28 minutes and will face another 19-year-old in the semifinals, the Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, who defeated Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine during the day session.

“I’m sorry I won against Melanie today,” Wozniacki said to the crowd afterward. “I know many of you guys wanted her to win, but hopefully I won many of your guys’ hearts and you’ll be cheering for me in my next match.”

This was Wozniacki’s first Grand Slam quarterfinal, but the outgoing Dane, who speaks four languages and is already a well-established figure on tour, looked more comfortable from the start under the lights than Oudin, who had played all her previous matches under the sun.

Though Oudin pushed hard to break Wozniacki’s serve in the second set after dropping the first set in only 37 minutes, she was unable to convert on four break points in the early stages as Wozniacki stayed composed and relatively patient.

Meanwhile, Oudin kept producing unforced errors, above all with her most forceful shot, the forehand. She would finish with 43 unforced errors: a big number for a quick, two-set match. She would also lose the last four games of the match, with Wozniacki closing out the victory when Oudin hit a backhand long.

“You pulled me through so many matches, so I really appreciate it,” Oudin said to the crowd in her post-match interview on court. “I’ve had a great run here.”

While Oudin broke through at Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round as a qualifier, Wozniacki made her first big move by reaching the fourth round at last year’s Australian Open. Since then, she has worked her way into the top 10, winning six tournaments and becoming the biggest sports star in her nation.

(powered by: THE NEW YORK TIMES)




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