Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Foosball-playing kid stuns mighty Sharapova

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NEW YORK -- Melanie Oudin's face was flushed from a mix of exertion and excitement and maybe even a bit of bewilderment after her upset of Maria Sharapova when she stepped out of the U.S. Open locker-room and saw mom.

The pair embraced, kissed each other on the cheek, and Leslie Oudin told her 17-year-old daughter: "I'm very proud of you." Then they hugged some more, holding tight.

Melanie Oudin is still very much a kid from Marietta, Ga., enjoying the trip of her life in the Big Apple, playing foosball in the players' lounge and using words like "amazing" and "cool" as she works her dizzying way through the draw at Flushing Meadows. Oudin's latest win was the biggest so far: She knocked off three-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Sharapova 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 Saturday to reach the U.S. Open's fourth round.

"I just had a blast," said Oudin, who buried her face in a towel and sobbed on the sideline when the match ended.

In an equally shocking upset on the men's side, Andy Roddick lost to six-foot-nine American John Isner.

The 55th-ranked Isner smacked 38 aces to beat the 2003 Open champion 7-6 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (5) Saturday.

Isner reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

The No. 5-seeded Roddick is the first of the top 16 seeded men to lose at the U.S. Open.

Sharapova double-faulted 21 times, the most by a woman in any 2009 tour match. But the five-foot-six Oudin's solid groundstrokes and tremendous court coverage -- all those small, squeaky steps -- and veteran-like presence played significant roles, too.

So, perhaps, did the partisan fans, who began hootin' and hollerin' to celebrate their girl's victory right as her racket met the ball on the clinching forehand winner.

"I try to pretend that it's not, like, Arthur Ashe Stadium, playing Maria Sharapova. I try to just pretend it's any other match -- even just practising," she said.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2009 C2

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