Not that the US Open needed to put more pressure on the slumping Melanie Oudin, but she will kick off play at 11 a.m. on Monday in Flushing Meadows. Oudin has lost more times in the first round this year than she has won in WTA and Grand Slam events, and an early-round loss will see her ranking drop to the point where she won’t get direct entry to tour-level events until…ever?
“It’s been a tough year, because people out there are placing expectations on her,” said Oudin’s coach, Brian de Villiers, talking to the AP. “People forget she’s only 18…For her to just get dropped into that at this age — there’s no training for this. This is all first-hand experience.”
Oudin has a 17-20 win-loss record in 2010, and is 1-3 at Slams.
Venus Williams gave faint praise to Oudin, who is 2-5 since Wimbledon.
“I really admire her game,” Williams said. “She really makes the most out of her body and her talent. You know that if you are against Melanie, you have to give 100 percent on every point.”
Good luck with that. Oudin faces the Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk.
Williams, seeded No. 3, opens against Italy’s Roberta Vinci, while her sister Serena sits on the sidelines with an injured foot.
Other U.S. interest on Monday includes qualifier and NCAA No. 1 Irina Falconi vs. (the injured?) (19) Flavia Pennetta, and an all-American yawner match-up with Vania King vs. Christina McHale.
Defending champ and No. 2 seed Kim Clijsters opens vs. Hungarian Greta Arn, but the most interesting seed vs. unseeded match-up is (24) Daniela Hantuchova vs. former No. 1 Dinara Safina. No. 5 seed Sam Stosur is an injury unknown vs. Russian Elena Vesnina, and unseeded former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic (yet another injury unknown) opens vs. Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
Other match-ups of vague interest are Portuguese screamer Michelle Larcher De Brito vs. oft-injured Indian princess Sania Mirza, and an all-Czech match-up in (27) Petra Kvitova vs. Lucie Hradecka.
The men’s side of the draw is without injured champion Juan Martin del Potro, but 2009 runner-up Roger Federer is announcing his intentions, and will open Monday against Argentina’s Brian Dabul.
“I’m not happy playing semis and finals,” Federer said. “What gets me happy is winning Grand Slams and taking home the silverware.”
Other Top 10-seeded openers of mild interest Monday include (9) Andy Roddick vs. France’s Stephane Robert, and (6) Nikolay Davydenko vs. American “Iron” Mike Russell.
Former No. 1 and No. 32 seed Lleyton Hewitt has a tough start against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu, (13) Jurgen Melzer faces Dmitry Tursunov in a slugfest/slicefest, (17) Gael Monfils starts against American qualifier Robert Kendrick, and American USTA wildcard winner Tim Smyczek will need to bring his best against (26) Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil.
In all-unseeded meetings on Monday, American Taylor Dent faces Colombian Alejandro Falla, former junior No. 1 Ricardas Berankis takes on American Ryan Sweeting, and former college stars Kevin Anderson and Somdev Devvarman square off.
On the men’s side it all comes down to what everyone wants to see — a Federer vs. Nadal final that would put Nadal one match away from a first US Open title, against Federer ‘making up for last year.
“It was a disappointing loss for me,” Federer said of falling to del Potro last year. “I felt like that was one of the finals I should have never lost.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
ON-LINE AUCTION FOR ARTHUR ASHE ENDOWMENT – The Arthur Ashe Endowment for the Defeat of AIDS will be raising funds through an online and mobile auction. Some of the items offered in the 2010 Arthur Ashe Endowment for the Defeat of AIDS (AAEDA) auction are AAEDA T-shirts, caps and tennis balls signed by Roger Federer, Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic as well as other top stars and tennis legends such as Billie Jean King, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova. For the last 15 years the AAEDA auction of tennis memorabilia has been only offered at the AAEDA US Open booth, and 2010 marks the on-line expansion of the auction. The link to the auction is http://endowment.arthurashe.org/.
MISC – At the US Open the Bryan brothers will play two songs on the main stage at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day with their Bryan Brothers Band, and reportedly Novak Djokovic is scheduled to rap with them onstage…Chris Evert told the Toronto Sun that in her day everyone knew the Top 10 players and the rivalries, as compared to today’s shooting-star No. 1s and brief Top 10ers: “If you were to ask me to name the Top 10 players, I couldn’t do that today. When Martina [Navratilova] and I played you had it, when McEnroe-Connors played, you had it, and right now it’s sort of up in the air.”…The singles final at the Western & Southern Financial Group women’s open between Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova was the second-most-watched Olympus US Open Series match in ESPN2′s history, second only to the 2005 Rogers Masters men’s final between Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal…John McEnroe says women are fragile and shouldn’t be playing as much as the men: “You’re asking too much of the women. They shouldn’t be playing as many events as men. If tennis is best served by women playing events with men, so be it. They should be required to be in less events, there should be less events for the women. It seems it takes an actual meltdown on the court or women quitting the game altogether before they realize there’s a need to change the schedule.”
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