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Monday, June 29, 2009

Oudin keeps dream alive

Photo Titled Oudin on form
Battling Melanie Oudin upsets the 6th seed Jelena Jankovic in the 3rd round.

After seeing Venus and Serena Williams playing at Wimbledon as a girl, Melanie Oudin said to her mum: “I really want to play there one day.”

Not only has the 17-year-old’s dream come true – this is the American’s maiden main draw appearance ¬ she is on course for a potential meeting with Venus Williams after claiming the scalp of sixth seed Jelena Jankovic 6-7, 7-5, 6-2.

It has been an incredible run for the 17-year-old, who 12 months ago bowed out to eventual winner Laura Robson in the junior event. Only last week she was competing in the qualifying event. Now she finds herself in the second week of Wimbledon.

So how did she handle the pressure of playing on Court 3 against a former world No. 1? “Really well,” she insists. “I was just thinking that she was any other player and this was any other match and I was at any other tournament, not on the biggest stage at Wimbledon playing my first top 10 player.

“I just went out there today and I did my best. It ended up being good enough today, so I’m thrilled.

“My goal has always been, since I was little, to become No. 1 in the world one day. But I know that it’s going to take a lot more work and I’m going to have to get better and better. But I’m willing to work on it.”

Ouden admits she is a big admirer of Justine Henin, the former world No. 1. At 5ft 6in the American is just one inch taller than Henin and it is for this reason that she looks up, or might that be down, to the Belgian. “She’s proven that you don’t have to be six feet tall to be No. 1 in the world and win so many Grand Slams. Her footwork is amazing. Just everything about her.”

Fortunately, Oudin has youth on her side. She has now won six singles matches on the trot, and every main draw match has been a three-setter so the teenager will no doubt relish the middle Sunday rest day. She is remaining upbeat, claiming that every match has fuelled her confidence.

It’s the right attitude to have. Her next opponent is 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska and if victorious, Ouden could set up a potential all-American quarter-final with Venus Williams if the defending champion wins through.

In fact, Williams was very complimentary about her compatriot. “[She’s] super nice. Just so enthusiastic about tennis and about life, enjoying herself. Very well adjusted. Obviously I saw her Fed Cup win earlier this year. It was really exciting. It was huge in helping us get to the finals. So she’s done some great things.”

The five-time Wimbledon title holder also had some useful words of advice for the potential teenage star. “Just enjoy yourself and keep working hard and doing the things that got you to where you were.”

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