Melanie Oudin: The U.S. Open's Cinderella Story

Melanie Oudin: The U.S. Open's Cinderella Story
Melanie Oudin
Kathy Willens/AP

09/07/2009 04:00PM

Tennis's latest giant-killer is all of 5'6"-tall, just 130 lbs., and is not ashamed to say she has 15-year-old boyfriend. On Monday, Melanie Oudin's Cinderella story continued with the Georgia native's upset of 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova.

Oudin, 17, who has already ousted former U.S. Open champ Maria Sharapova and 4th-seeded Elena Dementieva, now advances to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.


"I didn't think I started off to well," she said on TV after her victory on Monday. "I stayed in there with her in the second set . . . and gained my confidence, believing I could do it and I did it."

The first half of the match was close before Oudin prevailed. "It was tough. She was all over me," she told an interviewer of her veteran opponent. "I just kept fighting and I’m so happy that I won."


'A Star Is Born'

With a raucous home crowd behind her, she came from behind to defeat Petrova 1-6, 7-6 and 6-3. "A star is born!" sportscaster Dick Enberg said after the match. "Don't underestimate what this woman can do.”

Oudin will next play the winner of Monday's match between 9th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and 6th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. Expect her to be wear her famous shoes, which say "Believe."

Austin Smith, her 15-year-old boyfriend, who joined Oudin in New York along with her family, takes credit for the sneakers. He told the New York Times that Oudin wanted to stand apart from other pros by putting a mantra on her shoes rather than a nickname.

"For me, it's all about that," Oudin said in the Times. "It's believing that I can beat these girls."

As her family, including her twin sister, cheered her on in the crowd, Oudin said their support makes her "more motivated. It's awesome." Tonight she plans to watch her next challenger's match and "celebrate my win later."

Oudin entered the tournament ranked 70th and is the youngest American to reach the quarterfinals since Serena Williams did so 10 years ago.

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