We have waited a longtime for a day like this. We have waited an eternity for a Grand Slam event like this. We do not mind that the Brits took our precious 5 foot 5 inch bundle of joy and put her on Court Six in the last singles match of the day. Not one bit! In fact, thank you! What a delight! What a perfect end to a spectacular day of American tennis. Wow!
Our little fireplug, our never-say-die Justine Henin emulator, Miss Melanie Oudin (oo-dan) did it again. On the main draw, it will say that Melanie Oudin, our new teenage superstar from Georgia, defeated Kazakhstan’s 21-year old Yaraslova Shvedova in three hard-fought, endless sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Over there on Court Six it was nail-biting time. Remember this little Southern sugarplum has to play her way in to the main draw. Melanie is already in her second week. Two weeks of pounding the grass, diving for balls, chasing everything down and winning.
That’s right, that’s the best part, winning. After her three qualifying wins, she has now racked up 2 main draw wins at the oldest tournament in the world. She is the youngest player still standing. That’s our Melanie. And, we are not letting go of her, not for one second. Frankly, we would like all you media types to leave her alone. We know what you are up to. We don’t blame you. She is after all, our Horatio Alger, our Silky Sullivan, our very special dream-come-true. We’ve been patient. We have waited, and waited and waited. And, now she has arrived.
Of course, we told you she would. You may recall that before this event began, before you knew her name was pronounced oo-dan, we picked her to surprise at Wimbledon 2009. We are darn proud of it, too. We will not let you forget. We have not had anything like this in a long time. Melanie is a very good tennis player. One day, she will be a great champion. But, what she is most of all, is hope. Thank you Miss Oudin. Will you marry my son?
Earlier this years, U.S. team captain Mary Joe Fernandez needed help for her U.S. Federation Cup team. She wanted a young player. In the U.S. there are only two players in the top ten under the age of 20. Fernandez selected Oudin, who jumped at the chance to represent her country. With the U.S. trailing 1-2, she faced Argentina’s savvy veteran Betina Jozami who blew Melanie away in set one. Melanie had a quick talk with herself.
“I kept telling myself after that first set that this time this was just another match, another match against another girl. The less I thought about the circumstances, the better I played.” Melanie came out blazing. She blasted Jozami off the court 6-1, 6-2 in the final sets to claim the match. Fernandez liked what she saw. “That kind of determination is good to see from a young player.”
That is the type performance, the kind of determination that enabled the petite American Dreamboat to overcome that first set thrashing today. Instead of seeing and feeling Wimbledon, she suddenly got that old feeling, the dangerous one. The one that says this is another match against another girl. That is how she came out firing in set two, storming to a convincing 6-2 reversal in set two. And, she fired away at the beginning of set three. Melanie carried that second set momentum to a quick 3-0 lead. Bit, this was too easy. It must be harder. It was.
Yaraslova mixed in some courageous shots, a few outright winners and an ace or two to get to 2-4. Then, she did the unthinkable. She broke our little lady. This was a long, hard game, filled with tension. Yaroslava fought off two game points. Melanie fought off one. At one point it appeared she had won the game, but a line call was overturned and the emotion swung across the net. Suddenly the momentum was changing and changing fast. At 3-4, Yaroslava held to pull even. Melanie was starting to commit unforced errors. This, our baby does not do. Okay, I’ll bite my nails, you pull yourself together. That is what you do. And, she did.
But, Yaroslava was pretty together too. And, she’s a little bigger than our baby. No matter. Melanie does not overpower you. She just wears you down with that searing forehand and that relentless effort. She simply stopped making mistakes. No more unforced errors. If you are going to beat Melanie, pack a bag. She does not go away. Don’t you love her!
At 4-4 , she fought off one break point. The rallies were getting longer and longer. It was taking a toll on Yaroslava. Not, on our bumblebee. Finally, she powered a forehand down the line and took a 5—4 lead. Yaroslava knew what was coming. One shot after another. Everything she threw across came back. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always powerful, but they all came back. Suddenly it was 0-40. Triple set point. Then, it was 15-40. Okay.
Then 30-40. Oh well.
Then, it was 6-4 and little Melanie Oudin will be playing former world number one Jelena Jankovic in round three. Now, how did Henin do with Jelena?
2 hours 12 minutes of bliss! Way to go you Georgia Sugar Plum!