FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Melanie Oudin has done such a good job knocking off Russians this US Open, Ronald Reagan could have used her during the Cold War.
And once again, there was Oudin coming from behind to win. First, there Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and then Elena Dementieva left the open early, After that, Maria Sharapova double faulting her way to defeat. This time it was Nadia Petrova and she knocked off the No. 13 seed, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3.
“I think it’s just mentally I’m staying in there with them the whole time, and I’m not giving up at all,” said the 17 year-old from Georgia. “So they’re going to have to [give it their all] if they’re going to beat me, they’re going to beat me, because I’m not going to go anywhere.”
Much like the last three Russian titans she defeated, Oudin had to come back in this match. It was almost as if she raises it up a level as her back is against the wall. After dropping the first set, 1-6, she fought back with the match on the line.
And in the second set, she was down a break, 4-3 when she brought the set back to serve, forcing her Russian opponent back on her heels.
“I don’t actually mean to lose the first set,” she laughed. “I sometimes just start off slowly, I guess. Maybe I’m a little nervous and all this stuff.
“But today my timing just wasn’t there in the first. My mindset going into the second was different. I totally forgot about the first. I was like, ‘All right. This is a new set.’ I’m going to start differently and forget about the first one and just start off like it’s a new match, and I started playing better.”
Playing better and more intense. It’s almost like she lulls her opponent into a false sense of security. Much like her idol, Justine Henin, Oudin becomes a powerhouse when the chips are down, maybe because she just refuses to lose.
“I think it does help me because I’ve been in that situation many times of losing the first set and being able to come back and win,” she said. “Because I do well with forgetting about the first one and starting over like it’s a totally new match, so I forgot about the first set, and I’m just going to start off and my mind is going to be just on what’s happening right then.”
After she brought the second set back to serve, Petrova couldn’t do much against Oudin. Able to force a tie break, the young American won the extra session and brought the match to the third, where she quickly broke, her Russian opponent with a 5-deuce battle, finally won with an overhead lob, which just hugged the baseline.
“I had a lot of break chances in that game and she didn’t have any, so I knew that I needed to come up with she came up to net, and it was, like, ‘Yeah, I’ll throw up a lob,’ and it ended up going in,” Oudin said.
“Yeah, I think I was on the defensive at that point.”
After that point, Oudin was on the offense. Although Petrova was able to get it back on serve, Oudin continued to assault the Russian with the approval of the Arthur Ashe crowd.
Petrova only could manage three wins in the third set. Although she blames herself, for some of the match, there’s no doubting the Georgian fireplug.
“She’s a very good mover,” said Petrova about her opponent. “You really have to come up with a great shot. Seems like, you know, you feel like you’re coming up with a good shot, and she just runs the ball down and she’s very good in defense. You have to really come up with a good shot against her.”
So as Svetlana Kuznetsova looks to advance tonight Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 6 seed may have the Russian killer in the back of her mind, because the winner of that match will face Oudin in the Quarterfinals.
“I don’t really care who I get,” Oudin said. “I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals. I know it’s going to be a tough match no matter who I play.”