Melanie Oudin Outlasts Jelena Jankovic

27 Jun 2009 by Hiland in Wimbledon 2009

Melanie Oudin Outlasts Jelena Jankovic in Wimbledon 2009Ms. Jankovic, I warned you. If you come to play Ms. Melanie Oudin, pack your bags. Miss Oudin does not go away. She makes you run, across the court, then forward, then backward, then forward again. One set with Melanie felt like a lifetime for Ms. Jankovic, once the top player in the world and ranked 127 places higher than our little American sugarplum. Not any longer.

The twosome teed it up at the same time Ana started with Samantha. That match ended. Then, Venus began. That match ended. Little Melanie and Jelena were still going at it over there on Court 3 where there were lots of ooohs and aaahs. The air was heavy, the temperature scorching, but a hot day at Wimbledon is a cool day in Marietta Georgia.

I think she perspired in the 4th game of the third set. It was hard to tell. The former number one needed a 13-minute strategic layover between set one and set two.

Jelena Jankovic Crushes out of Wimbledon 2009That bothered our little lioness a bit, just as Jankovic knew it would. Jelena took the maximum amount of time between points, fumbling with ball exchanges, slowing things down. She stretched the umpire’s patience, the commentator’s patience and the nerves of the little lioness.

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Welcome to the Big Leagues, little lioness. Welcome to the world of professional gamesmanship. We hope you never have to resort to that. Shoot from the hip and play from the heart. That is what got you here. That is what won for you today, in the biggest match of you life.

On Day Six at Wimbledon, a 17-year old American High School student, Melanie Oudin, knocked off the former number one player in the world in three sets, 6-7 (10), 7-5, 6-2. Jelena Jankovic forgot to pack her bags. The six seed is gone!

Stretched to the quick, Jankovic not only took a 13-minute timeout, she stalled by complaining about everything from line calls to ballboys and ballgirls. For Melanie Oudin, it was another match, another girl.

Melanie Oudin has the highest ranking of any surviving woman. She is the only player in the event who has won six matches. That’s right six. Of course when you are ranked 133, you have to qualify. Melanie is now one of the last 16 players to survive the pressures, heat, crowds and media coverage at this Wimbledon event. And, she has jumped way up in the rankings and on the visibility scene.

I warned you. This pocket rocket has plenty of game. Granted, her serve is suspect. Wait until next year. What she has is an array of accomplished shots. Melanie unloaded baseline drop shots that left Jankovic standing still wondering what she had just seen. Melanie retrieved balls that Jankovic thought were winners. The Serb’s shoulders her kept shrugging. Perhaps, that is why her neck was bothering her.

Court 3 was unfamiliar territory for the play-in. It was like home for Jelena. It soon became Melanie’s home and her favorite court in all the world. Today, Court 3 was where Rocky Balboa overcame Apollo Creed. What a slugfest! Three grueling, intense hours of heavyweight competition. Our little 5 foot 5 inch fireball just kept firing away.

In a match where the players played aggressively when behind, they played tentatively when ahead. The emotional swings were powerful and nerve-wracking. In set one, Melanie had the set in control, but Jankovic’s experience showed through.

Jelena began to land her serves and pressured the young American. Pundits will say that Melanie had nothing to lose, that she was free of pressure. Those pundits do not really understand Melanie Oudin. This girl plays to win every point in every match. Her view is not of the match, it is of the next point.

And make no mistake about it. Melanie has a head for tennis, knows her strengths and weaknesses and plays her game. With Melanie, it is not about pressure, it is about flawless execution. Melanie builds points. She runs opponents across the court, makes them move and simply gets to every ball.

Melanie is about disguising her baseline backhand and suddenly dropping her left hand and deftly executing the most devastating drop shot in the game. It is the joy of doing it right. It is the joy of seeing the admiration in your paralyzed opponent, who shrugs and complains of dizziness, or accosts the ballgirl. Hey, let’s play tennis!

In set two, trailing 4-5, 15-30, Melanie Oudin should have been nervous. She was on the ropes. Then, “the another match, another girl” mentality kicked in. She hit a baseline heart-stopping drop shot that just cleared the net and left Jankovic shaking her baseline head. You could see, she wanted no more of this silly play from this little girl. After all, this is Wimbledon, not Marietta, Georgia. Melanie blasted two winners and it was 5 –5, but it was more than that.

At 5-5, 15-30, Melanie Oudin (oo-dan) chased down a Jankovic drop shot and tidily deposited it beyond reach. She then hit a spectacularly deft half volley. Jankovic stalled but pulled to 40-40.

The match and momentum were on the line. With Oudin, it is not about the pressure, it is about flawless execution. Bing! A stunning crowd-cheering drop shot. Jankovic stared. Then, a cross court, angled backhand and it was 6-5!

Jankovic jumped on nervous serves. A double fault. It was 15-30. Melanie was on the attack. A booming forehand winner squared the game. Oudin finished the set (7-5) with two stellar forehands.

They sat on their chairs. One player wanted to get back out there. The other saw replays of recent performances. She was on the ropes, and the lioness knew it.

First game third set. Melanie fought off 7 game points. That’s right 7 game points. You could feel it. Melanie Oudin refused to lose. She captured an add with another courageous drop shot. She converted to go up 1-0.

In your heart, you knew this match was over! Melanie held for 2-0. Jankovic held, 2-1. Melanie held, broke to go 4-1. Jelena held, 4-2, Melanie held, 5-2. Points were now getting shorter. Jelena had had enough.

The lioness prevailed at game 8 for a 6-2 win. It was the biggest match, the biggest win of a very new career. As Patrick McEnroe said, “it was a huge win for American women’s tennis.” Melanie Oudin learned how to win big matches today. And, she is in the Big Leagues to stay.

Now, little lady, Will you marry my son? Will you be content? You are one of the 16 best grass court players at Wimbledon 2009. Prove it! Beat either Agnes Radwanska or Na Li. Do not be happy to be where you are. This was big, but not the goal. On Monday, another girl, another match.

Chase down every ball, hit another 38 outright winners and do not be tentative when ahead. You know what Melanie? We came to see you play. So, play on, baby, play on!



  • Your posts about this girl are excellent.

    Comment by Kristoffer — June 27, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

  • I watched a match where Ms. Jankovic played in May while I was visiting Slovenija. The game was in Germany and Ms. Jankovic was to defend her title against younger challenger. I While the young challenger played remarkably well againt the veteran, Ms. Jankovic defended herself gracefully exhibiting the perseverance with experience. While the jubilant younger player was well accepted at the German stadium which was her home and Ms. Jankovic was received with some nasty comments even from a broadcaster, it was then I found beauty in the face of the veteran player who fought sincerely to the end of the game to defend herself as the champion at last. I also thought that would be a good lesson for the younger challenge also after all. For she would have more chances following after that games and further future. The sports games are such that as they require endurance not only in Spirit and but also in body, it may reasonably presumed that today’s winners will lose to another in future when another challenger with more strong body appears, just like even Elizabeth Taylor has been replaced by younger actresses in the world physical appearance is a factor of success. I do congratulate Ms. Oudin’s success as a player in the court, as I would if my daughter would succeed in any of her goal of endeavor, and as American and as also wife of a Serbian American, I also cheer for Ms. Jankovic for her unwaving fight to the end of her career. For anyone in any field, it will be the greatest pleasure and honorable thing to make endeavor to the end as long as one may carry on. I cheer and congratulate for both for good play. Young Sook Kim, President, Korean Institute, Inc. : Center for Language and Culture, 229 Hurley Street Unit #1 Cambridge, MA 02141 USA Email: (617)850-2108 (617)661-6424

    Comment by Young Sook Kim — June 28, 2009 @ 10:31 am

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