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November 7, 2010

Melanie Oudin


M. OUDIN/F. Schiavone
6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Of all the times that the U.S. has been down 2-0, this is only the second time that someone has actually won the first match to have a fourth singles match. It's only the second time the match has been extended to a fourth singles.

Q. Is this as good as you felt on the court for a while today? Can you think of any time you felt better after a match?
MELANIE OUDIN: Uhm, I think -- well, I mean, I got to the semis of Paris. That was the best tournament I guess of the year for me. But I was sick. I didn't feel that good after the match.
But, uhm, no, this was -- I mean, I'm a little bit shocked because, I mean, you know, of course you guys know that I played instead of Bethanie. We were all trying to decide who was going to play, who wasn't going to play. We were down 2-0. I was thinking, of course, my first match is in that match where if I lose, then the whole U.S. team loses.
But Mary Joe has, like, a lot of faith in me, that I've been down before and I've actually done well when I have lots of pressure on myself.
So today I definitely think this is the best I've played in a long time. I felt confident out there. I really played with no fear. I had a good game plan going in. I kept it going from start to finish and didn't let her get back in the match.

Q. When you're on your game, you clearly bring a certain magic. Inside yourself, how did this feel compared to your big run at the US Open?
MELANIE OUDIN: I mean, of course, those were great tournaments for me. It's a whole different feeling. For me, I was just playing completely for myself. I mean, here was for the whole U.S. I mean, the crowd was tremendous out there today. I was really playing for myself, my team and the whole U.S.
So I think sometimes that Fed Cup can bring out the best in people, especially when you're playing for your country. I think that's what really happened for me today.

Q. To come off the bench after not playing yesterday...
MELANIE OUDIN: I think that's what really made me even more excited to play today because I didn't get to play yesterday. Yeah, I mean, I really do think that I thrive under pressure sometimes because I'm one of those players, like especially last year at the US Open, you know, like, the whole crowd being for me, I can do better. Like Billie Jean said, I don't know, maybe it has something to do with her being here today or what, but I just remember when she said that 'pressure is a privilege'. That really, really means something to me.

Q. Can you take us through, from yesterday, after the match with Bethanie, how she was feeling, what the discussion was, when the decision was made, did Mary Joe make it or the did the team make it?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, everyone saw yesterday Bethanie was definitely getting tired during her match. I didn't make the decision. I don't think anyone made the decision but Mary Joe. She's the captain, so... We didn't talk or I didn't know anything. I just knew I needed to be ready to play first match, second match, whatever today. I was ready to play, no matter what.
Then this morning, I found out I'm going to play first because I hadn't played a match. I'm like way fresher than the rest that played yesterday, really going to need to try to grind out Francesca today if we were going to try to get back in there and hopefully get it to the doubles, so...

Q. Obviously the way you played Schiavone, she was a hundred percent a different player than she was against Coco yesterday. What were some things you talked about tactic-wise to help that? Were you surprised by how different she was today than yesterday?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, Coco and I play totally different. She's got a huge serve. She tries to finish the points way quicker. She doesn't move that well. My game is moving well and getting a lot of balls back.
I think that's what I did really well today against Francesca. I don't think she expected the ball to come back that many times, especially when she was trying to come in, and I came up with some really good passing shots and stuff.
I really think I played defense really well today. Then when I had the chance, I played good offense. I think that really rattled her a little. Then she started missing some in the second set because I was making her hit a lot of balls.

Q. Did you know that this level was coming? You mentioned before the tournament of the year was Paris Indoors, which was February. You struggled through a lot of the year. Did anything happen in the last month where you felt you could come in here and beat the French Open champion so resoundingly?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I had to pull out of a tournament in Asia and come home because I had a back strain. So I've been home just training for a while. I really think I needed that. I think I needed going home, clearing my head after a tough year, then try to get ready for Fed Cup.
I've been excited about it ever since we won in Birmingham. So it was, uhm, something I really looked forward to. I really think that that's how I played my best tennis today, was because I felt relaxed out there. I was confident again. I really feel like I'm back again like I was last year at the Open.

Q. When did you find out this morning? Were you alone? Did Mary Joe come to you? Were you all together?
MELANIE OUDIN: Uhm, I mean, her and Ola, one of the other coaches here, just came up and they wanted to talk to me. They told me I was going to play the first match this morning. I was ready to play first or second, whatever. I mean, it wasn't a big deal. I knew I was supposed to play today, I just didn't know which match.

Q. Were you in your room, eating breakfast?
MELANIE OUDIN: Just in the morning, we were in the lounge.

Q. Your strategy going in was to get a lot of balls back, keep it to her backhand? What were you trying to do out there?
MELANIE OUDIN: Like I say, my strategy was, yes, to move well, get a lot of balls back, don't go for anything crazy. But for me everything was working today. So if you're on, if your A game's on, you just keep doing it. For me, all my shots were working. So I just kept doing the same thing. Uhm, when I was aggressive, I got her on the move before me is when I normally won the points. But I also played good defense today. So it was good.

Q. Is this what you would call being 'in the zone'?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes. Today I was definitely in the zone. I mean, beating Francesca, let alone winning 3-1, I did not expect that to happen at all. I was definitely on my game today.

Q. Could you describe what was going through your mind as you're routing the reigning French Open champion or was your mind blank?
MELANIE OUDIN: No, it wasn't blank. I was definitely thinking that, uhm, I need to stick with what I'm doing, not let her get back in the match. I started off the second set really well, 2-0, 40-Love. Played a couple tight points. Okay, I need to really make sure I win this game. She's got so much experience, I don't want her creeping back in the match when I had it, like I could win it.

Q. How do you think she played compared to the last two times you played her?
MELANIE OUDIN: I think that, uhm, it's really different. I mean, I don't really know how to say because it's been a while since I played her last. I think that sometimes when your opponent is playing really well, it makes you play worse because I was making her go for more than she would go for. Like, she doesn't go for huge, huge shots. Today I think she was going for low-percentage shots because I was making a lot of balls and making her hit a ton of balls, making her change direction, trying to do something else because I was beating her pretty handily, so...

Q. You said it's been a tough year. Looking at your record, it's not one you would like to have again. Can you talk about what you're thinking going into 2011. This is the end of your season right here.
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes. Well, uhm, everyone says that sophomore year on the tour is the toughest. Of course, you don't want to think that. You don't want to be like, Oh, man, this year is going to be tough. But truthfully it is, whether you like it or not. The players get to know your game. Especially since I had a great run at the US Open last year, like, I had a huge bullseye on my back. No one wanted the new kid to win.
It's been tough. I think I've learned so much this year, though. I think that it's going to benefit me, especially next year. I mean, it's going to be a new year. Playing this match, beating a top 10 player at the end of the year isn't that bad. I like to say that the end of my year was pretty good now (smiling).
I'm just really looking forward to starting off the year strong in Australia and hopefully have a better year than I did this year.
THE MODERATOR: She is actually playing a USTA 75,000 event in Phoenix.
MELANIE OUDIN: To be in main draw Hobart.

Q. At the press conference at the draw, Mary Joe said that she thought Coco's game kind of lined up better with Francesca's. Do you feel that your game did line up well with her?
MELANIE OUDIN: Uhm, I agree with Mary Joe actually. I mean, I think Flavia is a better matchup for me than Francesca just because she hits the ball a little bit flatter. She doesn't use a slice backhand that much.
I mean, if you're playing -- if I'm playing really well, like I did today, then it worked. I mean, it worked against Francesca. You know, so, in the past that's why I thought she thought I might struggle a little bit, that Coco might be better, because she's got that really heavy ball. She mixes it up a lot. She plays more like a guy. Flavia is just flat and rallies a lot and is a better matchup for me.
But I thought I played Francesca pretty well today, so...

Q. When Mary Joe told you that Coco and Bethanie were going to play on Saturday, was there any way you could avoid feeling bad being you've been a starter the last three ties before that, you were a go-to player?
MELANIE OUDIN: Of course, I felt bad because I had played in every Fed Cup, you know, this year. It kind of stunk not to get to play the first day. But it wasn't my choice. I mean, it was Mary Joe's choice, and she felt like that was best for the team. Of course, I mean, I'm not going to complain about it. I'm going to say, Okay, you think it's best for the team, I'm going to be there to support her.
I thought Coco played pretty well yesterday, but Francesca was just too strong for her. I think going in and playing your first Fed Cup at a final is a little bit of pressure, for sure. I remember my first Fed Cup, and it was a lot of pressure. I can see it was probably really tough for her yesterday.
Uhm, I think not playing yesterday and watching them play made me more determined to come in today and win for my team.

Q. Some people dismiss the phrase 'pressure is a privilege.' Talk about what that means to you. You said you learned a lot from a tough year this year. Talk about that, as well.
MELANIE OUDIN: Yeah, uhm, well, for me, I mean, I think I really, like, showed that in the US Open last year. Uhm, or, I mean, no, that's when I had no pressure at all. But, like, ever since then I have had a lot of pressure because everyone's looked at me to become, like, one of the next best Americans after the Williams sisters.
But for me I really think that being, like, down a set, whatever, I've always done well coming back. Even being down, that's some pressure right there.
For me, like, if I'm really, really focused, I don't worry about anything else, so pressure doesn't really get to me if I'm really, really focused on what I'm doing. I don't think about anything else. Like today, I didn't even think about us being down 2-0, if I lose, the whole team loses. That's why I did really well and handled pressure well, is I don't let it get to me.
Then learning this year. I've learned many things. How much you have to travel when you're on the tour. And it is a lot. I didn't know it was going to be this much. But it's pretty cool. I get to go to a bunch of different places. Uhm, then I learned about a lot of different players on the tour, how they play. I've gotten not as many matches as I wanted to get in there, but a good bit.
I think I've learned a lot about my game, what kind of player I am, what I need to work on. I think I still have a ton of things that I still can work on. Even from today's match, I think I can get better. So I'm always looking to go forward and hopefully I can be in the top 10 one day like them.

Q. You hadn't beaten a player ranked higher than 143rd since late July. How do you explain a player with that recent résumé knocking off the seventh-ranked player in the world and routing her?
MELANIE OUDIN: Well, I think I did beat someone higher than 143. Uhm, I mean, that's another thing that I did well when I play my best, I don't think about what someone's ranked when I'm playing there, or the situation. It's just another match on another court. That's what I did so well at the US Open last year. Like, I didn't let myself think, Oh, my gosh, I'm in Arthur Ashe Stadium in front of millions of people watching on TV and everything. Today I really just focused on my game and the ball and what I needed to do.

Q. You said you learned a lot about other players' styles this year. Who impresses you the most? Who do you fear the most? Who do you think is the player for you to beat or anybody to beat?
MELANIE OUDIN: Uhm, I mean, I'm really, really impressed with Kim Clijsters, the way she plays, the way she moves. I mean, she comes back, wins the US Open last year, then she won it this year, too. Yeah. Then she takes off and her next tournament is The Championships in Doha and goes there and wins that, too. She just shows she's an extremely talented player.
I've never gotten to play her before. Just watching her. I love watching her. She plays so relaxed and confident out there. Nothing ever gets to her, it seems like.
THE MODERATOR: Get to see her first round Fed Cup next year.
MELANIE OUDIN: That's true actually.
Q. You talked about the traveling. It can be a grind. How do you break it up or what do you do to make it fun? Do you do any sight-seeing, any of that kind of stuff?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yeah, I definitely like to do sight-seeing if I haven't been to a place before. A lot of the times I practice a lot when I'm at the tournaments. Then normally I tired so I go back to the room and do whatever.
But I like to see the places. I went to so many new places this year that I've never been to. Next year I think I'll go to even more. It will be interesting.

Q. What was your favorite tourist attraction you might have seen this year?
MELANIE OUDIN: I don't really like Europe that much. I don't like Asia much either. I don't know. I mean, the United States is the best for me. I'm not complaining about Europe and Asia. It's just so different. I'll get used to it, especially when I get older. I just struggle a little bit with the hotels and the food there.

Q. Billie Jean King was here. Did she say anything to you before the match?
MELANIE OUDIN: Yes. She came back to our player lounge and she just said, Go for it, good luck today, gave me a pat on the back. I heard her while I was playing, for sure. She was cheering.

Q. Did you have any advice for Coco?
MELANIE OUDIN: I only got to see her a minute. I told her to just go for it. I'm pretty sure she could tell how I played today. If she can play like that, then she'll be able to win, too.
Uhm, but I think the main thing was just how I did. I encouraged her by playing like that and being able to win and going for it. Hopefully she'll do that same thing.

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