Few of the usual lady suspects still in hunt
Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 5:54 pm
By: By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — At any Grand Slam where Melanie Oudin wasn’t becoming a star, any of these other women would make a fine story.
Their names are Caroline Woz-niacki, Kateryna Bondarenko and Yanina Wickmayer.
Like Oudin, they won matches Monday to make it to their first Grand Slam quarterfinals.
Like Oudin, they are two wins away from the final and a possible meeting with Serena Williams for the U.S. Open title.
Nice stories, indeed, at a tournament that has been turned upside down.
But not nearly enough to knock Oudin, the 17-year-old sparkplug from Marietta, Ga., out of the headlines.
“Nice for a change that somebody’s coming up we haven’t heard about much before,” said none other than men’s No. 1 Roger Federer, who blew out No. 14 Tommy Robredo to win his 38th straight match at Flushing Meadows.
For the record, nobody asked Oudin what she thought about Federer on this day.
The 70th-ranked player in the world, sharing a room with her mom at a hotel in Manhattan, put together another come-from-behind upset in Queens, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 over 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova.
Her next opponent is No. 9 Wozniacki, a 19-year-old from Denmark with more wins on tour than anyone this year, and none more important than Monday’s.
She’s the only seeded player remaining on a side of the draw that has gone completely haywire.
A nice story, yes?
A lot of good that will do her come Wednesday evening against Oudin.
“Hopefully,” Wozniacki said, “someone from the crowd will cheer for me.”
On Monday in the fourth round, most of the cheers belonged, of course, to the young American Oudin.
She improved her record to 6-1 at this summer’s Grand Slams.
At Flushing Meadows, she has beaten No. 4 Elena Dementieva, No. 29 Maria Sharapova and now, Petrova, all in come-from-behind fashion.
“You don’t know if she’s winning or losing,” said Oudin’s father, John. “She doesn’t seem nervous out there — and I don’t know where that came from.”
Wozniacki’s 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) win over No. 6 Svetlana Kutsenova in a later match eliminated the only remaining player on that side of the draw with a Grand Slam tournament title to her credit.
It means all four of these quarterfinalists have every right to believe they could make it to the finals.
Only one, though, has that word — “Believe” — stamped there on her shoes.
“Right now, I think she’ll play Serena in the finals,” said Oudin’s twin sister, Katherine, who was sobbing in the stands when it was over. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Nor, it seems, is Federer, whose 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Robredo was as much of a breeze as anyone can expect in the fourth round. He is seeking to become the first player to win six straight titles at this American major since Bill Tilden, back in the 1920s.
One more win and he’ll extend another impressive streak, pushing it to 22 straight semifinal appearances in Grand Slams.
“I guess when it snaps is when it’s a pity,” Federer said. “As long as it’s going, you go with it. It’s not something I aim for. I’m aiming for almost bigger, to be quite honest.”
His next match is against No. 12 Robin Soderling, who advanced when No. 8 Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury at the start of the fourth set. Federer beat Soderling in the French Open final earlier this year to complete his career Grand Slam.
Others advancing to the quarterfinals were No. 4 Novak Djokovic and No. 10 Fernando Verdasco, who knocked American John Isner out and ensured there would be no American in the U.S. Open men’s quarterfinals for the first time ever.
“Yeah, I knew that,” Isner said. “I didn’t really think too much about it.”
Facing the winner of the Oudin-Wozniacki quarterfinal will be either Bondarenko, who also has a sister on tour, or Wickmayer, who advanced by beating Petra Kvitova — the player who earlier knocked out No. 1 Dinara Safina.
It’s a meeting of No. 52 vs. No. 50, the kind of match you’d expect to see in the second round in Madrid, not the final eight in Flushing.
Before this week, Bondarenko had never made it past the third round in a major, Wickmayer never past the second.
“I think if you’ve never played quarterfinals — if your furthest in a Grand Slam is second round — I don’t think you can expect anything,” Wickmayer said.
Now, though, she can dream about everything.
Oudin certainly is. Her post-match celebration was muted this time compared to the reaction after the Sharapova win, when she sat down and cried.
She has become the household name, the comeback kid, the one with more heart than power and enough grit to make it big in the Big Apple.
“Now I know I do belong here,” she said. “This is what I want to do. I can compete with these girls no matter who I’m playing. I have a chance against anyone.”