Serena Wins Fourth US Open

Serena Williams collapsed to the tennis court and then jumped for joy after she won her fourth US Open of her career yesterday. The 15th Grand Slam victory of her career wasn’t as easy as it seemed at the beginning, and Williams was actually two points away from losing her second-straight US Open final.

Serena dominated the first set of the matchup, winning 6-2, and breaking the serve of her opponent, 23-year old Victoria Azarenka, ranked #1 in the world, three times. It appeared that the 30-year old Williams would win the final easily, without losing a set to any opponent, something she also accomplished in 2002 on her way to the US Open title. But Azarenka stormed back to take the second set 6-2, to create the first US Open Women’s final to go to a third set in 17 years.

Williams and Azarenka traded breaks in the third and final set, and Azarenka was in control, up 5-3 and a break. At 30-30, Williams took over, holding serve, then breaking Azarenka to tie the set at five, then held serve again before converting a final break that crowned her the champion.

Serena talked about her opponent being two points away from handing her defeat after the match. “At 30-all I figured I could serve out and just make her serve for it…after that, I thought I could just force another game and obviously never give up. I never, never quit. I have come back so many times in so many matches.”

With her win, Williams becomes the first woman ever to win a Grand Slam title in three different decades. “That’s kinda cool” she responded, when asked about the accomplishment. Serena praised the play of her opponent. “You can tell by the score line that she really worked hard and she pushed me.”

Azarenka also had positive things to say about Williams. “She never gives up…she’s definitely the toughest player mentally there is. She continued, with an upbeat attitude. “I have to be positive, you know, because I feel like these kind of matches, every time I play Serena, it really pushes (me) to be better, to improve, to move forward. I have to be thankful to her for that.”

There were numerous entertainers in the star-studded crowd of 23,771, including tennis legends Billie Jean King and Boris Becker, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Mets pitcher RA Dickey, actors Will Ferrell, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Judd Hirsch, and James Caviezel, actresses Jennifer Connelly, Minka Kelly,and Vivica Fox, musicians Redfoo of LMFAO and Mandy Moore, supermodel Tyra Banks, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Oudin’s Not Going Away

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Don’t worry about Melanie Oudin. Her Open may be over, after her straight sets, 2-6, 2-6, loss to Caroline Wozniacki, but her career is just beginning.

We saw a star being born in Flushing Meadows. A determined girl, who knows she has a lot to learn in her career and her sport before she can be a champion.

“I’ve never been to the quarters of a Grand Slam,” she said. “I’ve never been this far, so for me, I have to learn how to handle the grueling two weeks in a Grand Slam. And mentally, physically, I mean, my body has had a lot of matches and a lot of time on the court. Mentally, it takes a lot to fight through those matches three sets three times in a row.

“So for me, I think I’m going to need to learn how to handle that, and I need to improve. I think I need to get quicker and even stronger and I definitely can improve a lot of things in my game.”

First she’s playing in Quebec City next week in the Bell Challenge then maybe some time off. Although Oudin says her life is the same, it’s not. Her life has changed, as she’s become a national sensation. But yet, there’s still the wholesome attitude, which wowed the New York crowd as it came out so natural.

Even today, Oudin seemed overwhelmed as was almost in tears as she was peppered with questions. With time she will overcome that and with time she will take her top spot in the rankings.

“She’s only 17 years old,” said a very gracious and happy Wozniacki. “She has been playing some great tennis. I think that, you know, she had a lot of attention here, and I think the way she handled all the attention, I think she did very well. I think she has a great team around her, and I’m sure that she’ll win many, many more matches in the future, as well.”

Wozniacki came in with a game plan. Unlike the Russians Oudin took down, the Danish princess played a defense match and forced Oudin to make mistakes. Instead of taking the 17 year-old for granted, the 19 year-old forced the Georgian to make the shots, which at times came up short.

With time, though, Oudin will learn how to face an opponent like Wozniacki. She will force an opponent to play her game her game, instead of relying upon guts and guile.

“I think it’s going to be experience and working hard,” Oudin said. “I’m going to have to go back home and just keep training like I do. I’m sure that, you know, if I keep working hard, hopefully I can do this again.”

Our gut says she will, but remember next time, Oudin will be in the spotlight. After this year’s Open only a foolish opponent will take her for granted and in her next tournaments, she will be the featured match and in the spotlight.

Yet, this girl can handle it. With a good family base behind her, Oudin will stay as normal as she possibly can be. Right now, that’s pretty regular.

“I’m basically a normal 17 year-old kid,” she said. “I still go to movies and go to the mall. Like to shop. Here we’ve saw a couple of plays. I just like going back and watching TV. I have a Wii at my house. I love playing that.

“Just different things, like board games and cards with my grandma. I mean, I just love doing all of that stuff, so basically I’m just a normal kid.”

Even though, she will find out that some things will change, Oudin seems ready for the challenge. She is out of the shadows and now the girl everyone is gunning to get. Yet, as we have seen in these last two weeks, this “normal girl” from Marietta, GA can handle anything that’s tossed at her.