Seventeen-year-old US revelation Melanie Oudin (photo) defeated Russia's Nadia Petrova, ranked 13, to advance into the US Open quarter-finals. The teenager has already beaten the Russians Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova.
REUTERS - Another day, another Russian on the scrapheap. Life at this year's U.S. Open is becoming joyfully predictable for new American sweetheart Melanie Oudin.
Monday's 1-6 7-6 6-3 victory over 13th seed Nadia Petrova, played out in front of an entranced Labour Day crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium, propelled the tenacious 17-year-old into her first grand slam quarter-final.
Initially it appeared as though her wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, fourth seed Elena Dementieva and former champion Maria Sharapova had taken their toll on the young American tyro as she looked overawed in a first set lasting half an hour.
She was also 4-3, 40-15 down in the second set before a wasteful forehand from her opponent and a scorching winner sparked a thrilling counter-attack that had Petrova reeling and the New Yorkers whooping it up in the aisles.
When she sealed victory with another thumping forehand on her third match point the roars drowned out the jet soaring into the air from nearby La Guardia and probably reached as far as Manhattan's Times Square.
"She was all over me at the start and I didn't know what to do," a breathless Oudin, who has bettered her last 16 run at Wimbledon this year, said on court after dropping her racket in disbelief and clenching her fists to all sides of the stadium.
"I didn't think I started off too well and Nadia served unbelievable, but I stayed in there with her in the second set and she gave me a few free points and I got my confidence and I believed I could do it and I did it.
"I kept fighting and got the break and just kept fighting. I'm so happy to be in my first grand slam quarter-final."
Oudin's stunning performances have not only captivated American fans searching for a new sporting heroine, her natural, spontaneous tennis is a welcome sight for a women's tour overloaded with robotic sluggers.
She can certainly stand toe-to-toe with the best of them in the power stakes, as she has proved this year, but Oudin's straightforward, heart-on-sleeve demeanour on court is also a refreshing change from the contrived antics of so many of the identikit players emerging off the conveyor belt.
While the backhand may not be quite in the same class as former world number one Justine Henin's, Oudin's movement and fearless ball-striking do have similarities with the Belgian she is already being compared to.
Like Rocky, another albeit fictional American adept at cutting towering Russians down to size, she also loves a scrap.
"If they're going to beat me they will have to beat me because I'm not going to go anywhere," Oudin later told reporters after winning a third set decider for the 17th time in 21 attempts this year.
"This is my dream, I've worked so hard for this, I've wanted it forever and I'm now achieving my goal."
Oudin's brimming self-belief appeared to overwhelm Petrova in the final set as she lost nine out of 10 points as her young opponent sped into a 5-2 lead.
Petrova, who made her professional debut when Oudin was banging balls against the garage door as a seven-year-old, said the exuberance of youth was working in Oudin's favour.
When you do it for the first time you feel so excited and everything is so new and you have absolutely nothing to lose," the 27-year-old told reporters.
"She's on a roll, she goes, she enjoys it, the crowd is behind her. She's just having a blast out there."
Date created : 2009-09-08