Yesterday, 17-year-old Melanie Oudin continued her surprise run at the U.S. Open, defeating 13 seed Nadia Petrova 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 and advancing to the quarterfinals. The crowds at Arhur Ashe Stadium have been rallying around the 70th-ranked Georgia native (for instance, listen to the crowd at match point, right before beating Maria Sharapova), but the attention is also a bit overwhelming.
According to [coach Brian] de Villiers, she was not at her best, in part because he felt she had become distracted by two public appearances Sunday, which included a trip to Times Square for a photo shoot that ended up being cut short when a pair of photographers got into a shoving match.
Oudin said the incident "wasn’t that big of a deal," but according to de Villiers, she has been struck by the speed with which she has begun to be recognized. "With all the distractions in the last couple days, I don’t think she had quite the same mind-set at the start of the match," he said. "You could just see from her demeanor and that it took a while to get going."
The Post says the Times Square appearance involved Oudin receiving a Junior's cheesecake inscribed with "New York loves Oudin," and "Believe," which is what's stamped on her sneakers. But she won't let the attention go to her head, "Just because all of this is happening, it's not like I'm going to change the person. I just love to play tennis, and I'm doing well and I'm winning. That's the only thing that's changing."
Oudin will meet Caroline Wozniacki, the 9th seed from Denmark, tomorrow. And Roza Islamova, mother and former coach of number 1 seed Dinara Safina, says that while Oudin is playing well, the Russian women she's beaten weren't really ready for the U.S Open, psychologically or physically.