Safina Escapes, Oudin Roars

01 Sep 2009 by Hiland in 2009 US Open

Dinara Safina into 2nd round of 2009 U S OpenThe number one seed is vulnerable. That may not surprise too many fans. Russian top gun Dinara Safina hung on against lightly regarded 18-year old Australian string bean Olivia Rogowska and squeezed out a tense 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4 war of attrition. The 2.5-hour slop-fest did not resemble what Flushing Meadows fans have come to expect from their top seeds or Center Court play.

In fact, it is safe to say that neither Dinara or Venus will win the top prize at this year’s Open. There are simply better players out there who are hungry and chomping at the bit for a shot at either of the over-seeds. One of those trophy chasers is 17-year old Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Georgia, who looked every bit the aggressive challenger she is in her opening straight set victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.

Melanie Oudin celebrates her win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of at the 2009 U.S. Open tennis tournamentUnlike Safina, Oudin burst onto the court and with considerable energy made quick work off her opponent. No theatrics, no sulking, no temper tantrums, just plain old hard-nosed tennis characterized Oudin’s play in her 6-1, 6-2 triumph.

The bad news for Oudin is that she will next face the best player in the field, Elena Dementieva, who will most likely take a business as usual approach to Center Court. Well, that is the rub of the draw. The pretty Georgian seemed relaxed and poised in post-match interviews. She intends to play her game and will not back off against the heavily favored Elena. Unfortunately, her 88 mph second serve will work against her.

Safina would have liked to possess that 88 mph serve on Tuesday. Instead, the top seed sulked her way through 11 double faults and displayed an unfocused array of ground strokes that resulted in a stunning 48 unforced errors; hardly the kind of numbers one would expect against the 128th seeded player in the draw.

To make matters worse, Safina trailed at 0-3 in the third set before the war of nerves got the better of Olivia. For the record, Safina’s second serve averaged just 78 mph. Despite her favored draw, that will not get the job done. Safina lost her serve six times in the match.

Safina will try to right the ship against either Urszula Radwanska or Kristina Barrois on Thursday. If she does not pull herself together, that could well be her last match of this year’s Open.

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