The U.S. Open is coming up in a few weeks and one of the players that will get a lot of attention, perhaps too much attention, is Melanie Oudin. Oudin, who reached her first U.S. Open quarterfinals last year after taking out a trio of Russians including Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova became a household name overnight in America and immediately anointed the “next great American star”. Oudin lost her quarterfinal match to another teenager at the time, Caroline Wozniacki, and afterwards Oudin, though giving full credit to the Dane’s play, said the media attention she received overwhelmed her so much she couldn’t 100% focus on preparing for the match. So when I read the other day in a blog Oudin is writing for Tennis.com that she felt her early round loss in Cincinnati last week to Elena Vesnina was due in part to her “media obligations” prior to the match, I felt an immediate pang for her. And then one look at the banner for her blog confirmed everything for me.
The media hype machine has started for Oudin at the U.S. Open. And it’s the last thing she needs right now. Continue reading
Filed under U.S. Open, WTA
With the Super Bowl dominating sports news this weekend, don’t forget about the tennis being played with some “off the radar” players coming through with big wins.
Fed Cup was the focus of the women this week. The U.S. team, led by Melanie Oudin, who won both her matches, easily won their tie against France 4-1. Considering this was played on red clay and in France, it’s quite an accomplishment and could bode well for Oudin with the clay court season just around the corner. Continue reading
Roddick out of Paris.
Andy Roddick’s knee injury is either more serious than he’s letting on or he’s just playing it safe for 2010. Either way, he’s withdrawn from the Paris Masters next week according to ESPN.com. He’s still officially playing the Barclays ATP Masters in London but I doubt he’ll be a factor.
Oudin Leads the U.S. Fed Cup Team.
Remember when Serena Williams said she would play the penultimate Federation Cup tie against Italy even if she had “to play in a wheelchair”. Well Serena backed out of that promise last week and so now it’s to American phenom Melanie Oudin to lead the charge this weekend. In an earlier post, I didn’t think it was fair to let Serena in the final due to her lack of commitment for U.S. Fed Cup all year. Despite playing on red clay, I still give the Americans a chance as they’ve been underdogs all year.
Gasquet, Wickmayer and Agassi Playing Defensive.
In what seems a tidal wave of stories about drug use and doping, this past week saw the withdrawal of rising Belgian star Yanina Wickmayer out of the WTA Bali event after she was given a one-year suspension for failing to show up for three drug tests in a row though she plans to appeal. Xavier Malisse was handed a similar ban and in his press conference he cried through tears that this could be the end of his career. Richard Gasquet is set to defend himself before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland for his alleged “cocaine kiss” incident. The ITF and WADA still seek a one or two year ban for Gasquet though an independent bureau cleared him for play in August. And of course, Andre Agassi is set to defend himself and his book “Open” on 60 Minutes this weekend. Not exactly the best way to end the year for the sport.
Verdasco on the Verge.
And yes the ATP Masters points race still has some drama left as Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko appear to be in good shape to secure the final two remaining spots as both have reached the semifinals of the Valencia event.
Filed under ATP, Tennis, WTA
Watch my video on my take on today’s Men’s Quarters action along with a preview of the Women’s Semifinals.
Some quick thoughts on the key Day 8 matchups at the U.S. Open.
Melanie Oudin vs. Nadia Petrova
Oudin has won her last two matches over Dementieva and Sharapova by displaying tremendous heart and grit, but also due to those players helping out by not attacking the American more. Petrova is a solid player and will not let Oudin jerk her around the court. If Petrova holds her serve and keeps the crowd out of it, Petrova should win in two sets.
John Isner vs. Fernando Verdasco
Both men endured five set matches in their last round so fitness could be an issue. Verdasco is also suffering from an abdominal strain so he is spinning his serve in, so Isner should have a decent shot at returning. As long as Isner can not have a letdown after beating Roddick and can keep serving big, Isner should win in four.
Roger Federer vs. Tommy Robredo
Unless Federer displays more non-brilliant play like he did against Lleyton Hewitt for a set, Federer should win this in three easy sets.
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Both players here have a great opportunity to make it all the way to the finals as their side of the draw is wide open. Wozniacki has been hyped for some time but never quite lived it up to it all. “Sveta” can beat anyone, anywhere but her motivation has always been questioned. I think Sveta is ready to prove she can challenge for majors anywhere and will win this is three tough sets.