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August 30, 2010

Melanie Oudin


M. OUDIN/O. Savchuk
6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You think it was at all helpful to start on Ashe Stadium where you seem to have made a home last year?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it's a real honor to get to start the US Open off on Ashe, first match. I thought it was pretty cool. I didn't expect that.
But, yeah, I knew exactly when I was going to play at 11:00, knew who I was going to play, which was really good. I thought I played a really solid match all afternoon. Really nervous in the beginning, but I think I got it out in the first set. In the second set I thought I played really well.

Q. In terms of the season, so far in terms of losses, did this feel really good for the first time this year and dominating a match?
MELANIE OUDIN: No, I mean, I felt good earlier this year, too. It's not like this is, you know, just because back at the US Open. This is my favorite tournament, of course, but I felt good this year. Just because I haven't been winning doesn't mean I haven't, like, felt good.
I think I have had an okay year. It hasn't been bad. I mean, I've been improving my game. I think my serve has gotten better. I'm working on a lot of things.
Of course this is going to be the toughest year. It's my first full year on the tour. So I mean, I'm happy with how I did today and how I've done.

Q. You feel you've made progress?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, I do. I mean, I feel like I'm not going to backwards, that's for sure. I feel like I'm still young, I'm still improving, and I think I have a lot more work to do, though, for sure.

Q. What was the feeling like walking down that tunnel and you're going to be out there in the ballpark that was all yours last year? Were you quite nervous?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes, I was. But it felt so good to be out there again and hearing the crowd, and um, just being on Ashe again and playing. No matter who I was playing, it feels good to be back again.
But I was -- yes, I was definitely nervous. My stomach felt a little bit funny in the beginning of the match. But, um, I loosened up, and I think it got a lot better in the second set.

Q. You were coming close to going to a golden set.
MELANIE OUDIN: Yeah, I know.

Q. Did you think about that?
MELANIE OUDIN: I didn't actually think about it until I was up 4-0, and then I was, like, Wow, I haven't lost a point yet. But then I did. I think the first point at 4-0, so I shouldn't have thought about it. I think maybe I would have gotten it.

Q. Since you left last year, what's been the one high point and the one not so high point?
MELANIE OUDIN: Um, well, I mean, my best tournament I'd have to say would be in Paris in February, I guess, since last year's US Open.
Um, but there have been a lot of good things. I think I've improved and I've gotten more mature as a player and as a person. I think a lot of stuff is having -- it's a lot different this year, especially going into, like, Grand Slams.
So last year when no one expected anything from me, and this year there are pretty high expectations for me.
So I'm really just looking forward to playing how I know how can I play and play like I did last year here with no pressure and just going for it.

Q. What is the one key thing in your maturing process this year? How would you describe that or what would you point to?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I mean, I think I've grown up a lot. I mean, I think I'm actually more like a professional instead of just a junior. Even though now that I'm 18, I feel like I'm a legal adult now. So I guess that's a good thing. (Laughter.)
But, um, I'm just really excited that my match today went well. Definitely nervous like last night. And opening, you know, the tournament on Ashe was something that I definitely didn't expect, so it was a shock to me.

Q. Seemed like the whole match came down to one point when it was 30-All, and I think you were up 4-3 and going for the break. Did you tell yourself anything before that one point? I guess it was two points, 30-All and then the breakpoint which you won, and it was all downhill from there.
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I knew I missed some returns I shouldn't have missed in some of her service games, and then she served extremely well in her first service games. So I knew it was going to be tough for her to do that consistently, and I knew I was close to getting a break.
Usually that's when I try to, like, really, really buckle down, is when it gets close to the end of the first set. I was the one serving first, so I knew if I could get that break, I thought I could hold to win the set.

Q. How much relief is mixed in with the fact that you won just to get this one out of the way?
MELANIE OUDIN: There's a lot of relief, I think. Of course the first match of any tournament is the toughest, because you're just starting, it's a new place, new tournament. And especially here for me from last year doing so well, um, really, really happy to get the first round out of the way, and I'm happy with the way I played.

Q. How did you come up with "courage"?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I was thinking about -- everybody was asking me if I was going to do the same word again, "believe." I was like, No, I want to do something different this year, because -- I mean, not that I'm, like, sick of believe or anything - and people tell me that all the time - but I wanted something different.
I think "courage" was really, really good for this year, especially because of how well I did last year. I think that you need to have courage in order to believe in yourself.
Like in order to go for my shots and things like that and do as well as I did last year or better, I need to have courage.

Q. Do you write something on your shoe at all tournaments, or just at Slams or just at the Open?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I mean, for Wimbledon, adidas doesn't make a grass court shoe you can design. I didn't have a choice. The French I had "believe" on there.
But I mean, it was mainly, like, for the US Open. That's the main place I will wear them. I will probably wear them throughout the rest of the year.

Q. Has your training and practice routine changed since last year?
MELANIE OUDIN: No, not at all. I mean, I've had more media things to do and things like that, but I've definitely kept practicing as much as last year and the same.

Q. Have you grown at all since we last saw you? I mean physically.
MELANIE OUDIN: I don't think so, really. No, the doctor told me that she didn't think I was going to grow much more. It was a pretty sad day. (Laughter.) It's all right. It's all right.

Q. You said recently everybody has one Cinderella story in their life. Yours was last year. But do you feel like you have a shot of getting back to the quarters or maybe even better this year?
MELANIE OUDIN: I mean, I hope so. I mean, I want to think that can happen again. But, yeah, you're right. Everyone has one Cinderella story, and mine was last year. Now it's like everyone just expects me to do that because I did it last year. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to happen.
I mean, I'm going to have to play well. It's not just going to happen for me. I'm gonna have to play well and fight hard like I did last year, and, um, hopefully it will be good for me and I'll be the better player out there.

Q. How different is it for you to come into this tournament considering what happened last year as opposed to the year before where you had only played once before and were out in the first round.

Q. Relatively unknown I think to the general public, and now that Cinderella run. Just talk about the difference of coming into the tournament.
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, it's very different. I mean, also in the US Open Series tournaments leading up to here, I mean, I was the top American in the draw because the Williams sisters weren't playing. So everyone was looking for me to do well, and I played a lot of night matches, and then coming back and playing the next morning.
It was pretty tough, because that wouldn't have happened last year when people didn't know me. It's definitely different, but I think I've handled it really well coming into it, and I feel really prepared and ready to play.

Q. What were your thoughts on John Isner's match at Wimbledon and how he's handled all of the attention since?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I know that he's probably more sick of talking about his Wimbledon match, more than I'm sick of talking about last year's US Open. So him and I have something in common: talking about the same kind of thing over and over and over.
But, yeah, I thought it was an amazing match. I got to watch a lot of it. I'm sure -- you know, I'm sure people are going to ask him again about it this year. But it was amazing. I'm really happy for him that it happened.

Q. How do you feel you handled last year's success here, you know, after the Open until now?
MELANIE OUDIN: I think I handled it pretty well. I mean, it's not really normal for that to happen to a 17 year old getting into the quarterfinals, especially when, like, I hadn't had amazing results year except for in Wimbledon when I beat a top 10 player.
That normally doesn't happen. Normally you go up the rankings, you know, little by little, and then, you know, starting a slam winning a couple rounds. I hadn't won a round at the US Open before last year, and then all of a sudden getting into the quarters.
So really, really, like, came out of nowhere. In my junior career I was always like a late bloomer, so it was as big of a shock to me as everyone else, because I didn't start doing really well in juniors until I was 16 in the ITFs. So I did not expect that to happen so soon.

Q. Seems like you spent a lot of time in the last year trying to tell people, Look, don't expect this out of me every week yet. Did you ever have to tell yourself that?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I mean, of course I have expectations for myself, and they're pretty high. But I mean, one tournament, you know, like mainly like last year, everyone based, like, how I'm supposed to do off of one tournament. It happened in the US Open, which happens to be, you know, the biggest tournament in the United States, and, you know, a Grand Slam. So worldwide everyone knows about it.
Um, but, yeah, that's the thing. It's like I'm still young, I'm still growing as a player. I think I still have a lot of things to improve in my game, and a long career ahead of me, so...

Q. Is there anything you like better about being an unknown? Is there anything you don't like being about being the more famous Melanie Oudin?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I mean, of course everyone loves to be the underdog because you can go out there, no matter who you're playing, you're not supposed to win. So you can go out there and play with everything that you have and just completely go for it and no one expects anything from you.
I think that's when everyone plays their best. I mean, I think that's when I've played my best. So now I'm trying to play as someone that is expected to win, and it's a lot different than, like, last year.
But I've been playing with that, like, all year now, so I think I'm going to be able to handle it.

Q. Describe a little more about how is it different. How is it different being on the court as someone who is expected to win?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I mean, I always try to be in, like, my own world when I play. But it's a lot different when, like, the crowd is, like, most of the time always cheering for you. It's like you hear them say stuff, and it's not like, All right, like, come on; you're so close, like, you can do it.
It's more like, Melanie, come on. What are you doing? I hear that, like, kind of a lot. I'm just like -- it's just really different from like last year when everyone was so pumped for me, and at the past tournaments everyone is like, Come on, Melanie. They tell me, like, Fire up, Melanie and all this stuff. I'm, like, I'm trying as hard as I can, you know.
It's just -- it's not gonna happen all the time. Like, you never play your best tennis all the time.

Q. You said you wished you wanted to be taller. Do you feel like it is a disadvantage to be your height out on the tour now when you are looking up at most everybody?
MELANIE OUDIN: I mean, of course it's a little bit of a disadvantage, because everyone -- you can have a bigger serve when you have longer wing span better reach, and everything like that.
But, um, I think I'm quicker than a lot of the players, which is something that I've had to do. I have to be faster. You know, I have placement and variety and all that stuff.
I can't really do anything about being smaller, so I just have to make the most of it.

Q. You chose the word "courage," and in tennis there are lots of examples of courage from, you know, Blake and Ashe, the Williams sister, Monica, and so forth. Is there an example courage that means a lot to you? Talk about that quality. What does it mean to you?
MELANIE OUDIN: Um, well, I mean, I just really thought of the word because I thought it goes well with believe. I wasn't trying to just go completely away from the whole believe thing. I was just adding something else that I think that you have to do in order to believe is have courage when you play.
I mean, for me, like, when I'm going for my shots and I'm swinging out and I have courage and I believe in myself that I know I can win, that's when I'm playing my best. I think they go together.

Q. Is there an example, whether it's Isner at Wimbledon or some of the others, of courage in tennis that you could point to?
MELANIE OUDIN: Not really. Sorry.

Q. When you say buckle down on those late points, what do you do? Is there a routine?
MELANIE OUDIN: Like, well, I guess you consider it being, like, locked in on, like, really big points. Like 30-All points at, you know, 5-All in the second, like 30-All I focus on making the return.
You know, like, not giving my opponent just the point. You know, they'll have to beat me for it.

Q. How does playing in front of a New York crowd at the Open differ from the other majors our other places around the world?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, um, it's a lot. Well, depending on where you play. But also on Ashe, it's like a whole different vibe out there compared to other tournaments. I mean, I love playing on that court. This year I think even just warming up on it I was not, like, in a huge shock like I was last year. It was like way more comfortable, like, warming up on it.
Of course, when I got out there for the real match I was nervous, but I've, like, gotten more used to it, so it wasn't like a huge shock. I wasn't, like, freaking out, you know, being out there in front of everybody. I like it.

Q. You talked about being nervous a couple times. What do you do when you're out there feeling nervous? And building up to it, how do you calm yourself down?
MELANIE OUDIN: Normally it doesn't last very long. Normally it's only like the first game or two. Um, but I just try to relax, take some deep breaths, and, um, just think about that it's any other match on any other court and at any other tournament. So I don't try to think about them on, like, Arthur Ashe, first round starting off the US Open.

Q. How is becoming known because of what happened here last year affected your life off the court for better or for worse?
MELANIE OUDIN: Um, I mean, I think it's -- it's okay. I mean, it's fine. I'm not -- it's not like that different. I still do the same things that I did last year. The only thing that's different is when I'm out in public, more people recognize me than they would have last year. That's really, like, the only difference.
And then more, like, media stuff and things like that. I've gotten really used to that stuff, how to handle everything, like separating my practices and media stuff. And then pretty much, I mean, that's it. It's pretty much the same.

Q. Do you have a favorite story from being recognized where you might not have been a year ago?
MELANIE OUDIN: Um, well, after the US Open I went to a movie with my little sister - and I think she told someone the story, too - but, um, like, we just went to a movie like totally normal, and I'm in the bathroom and there's like this whole group of, like, little girls. Like they're maybe about 11 or 12, and they knew it was me.
My little sister is like trying to pretend that she doesn't know me and, like, I'm not who they think I am. I'm in the bathroom, so they all come into the bathroom and wait for me to get out. And then they go out, they're, like, Yeah, there's a bunch of boys outside waiting for you.
So I go outside, and I'm, like, bombarded by like 12-, 13-year-old little girls and boys. They just, like, couldn't believe that was me. They're like, You live here? I'm like, Yeah, I live, like, really close. They're like, Oh, my Gosh. I can't believe you live here.
So, yeah, it was pretty creepy. That wouldn't have happened.

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