WASHINGTON, D.C. – To some tennis fans, American Melanie Oudin may be an old story after her quarterfinal run at the 2009 U.S. Open and subsequent decline due to pressure. But after winning her first title in Birmingham recently and with her stellar results this summer, she is re-energized, radiant, and open about her journey in regaining confidence in her game.
Given that Oudin is currently ranked No. 109 in the world and only 20 years old, it’s easy to mistake her for a rising junior. And you wouldn’t be that far off. After attaining world No. 2 on the junior circuit in 2008, she ventured her hand into the professional circuit and had her breakthrough at the 2009 U.S. Open. But due to problems at home and the pressures to live up to her Cinderella U.S. Open run, Oudin struggled to solidify herself on the Tour as a threat.
It wasn’t until the end of last year – when she made a coaching change – that her game and confidence slowly started to take form.
“The USTA Training Center in Boca Raton was the first place I really tried – new place, new coaches – but nothing really clicked at first, and the results weren’t there either,” Oudin admitted. “It was just about finding the right coach for me. One that helped me, believed in me, gave me confidence, helped me get my game back again. And I feel like in New York [at the USTA National Center], they’ve definitely helped me. I started with them in March and since then — the way I’ve played and my results — everything has been so much better. I definitely give them credit. [When I made the coaching change,] I was ranked 300, and now I think I am at 109 after two months.”
Oudin’s demeanor during the press conference was optimistic, light, and much removed from the intense frowns and tears from last year.
“I’m a lot more confident than last year. Even with the losses I’ve had recently, I think I am just playing so much better than I did last year… I’m in much better shape now. Everything in my game is moving forward. Everything is just coming together.”
With the upcoming U.S. Open less than one month away in New York, it could have been daunting to return to the site of her biggest glories and biggest letdowns. But not Oudin.
Last year, when entered into the mixed doubles tournament as a wildcard with friend and junior player Jack Sock, the duo went on to win the whole event. And perhaps this is where all the good vibes for Oudin started.
Looking forward, she anticipates the calling to perform well at the U.S. Open with hunger.
“It’s going to be interesting this year because I have been training on-site. Last year, I was so nervous playing there. Ever since I did well in 2009, I have been so nervous when I go play there. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m really hoping that this year’s US Open will be different since I’ve been playing and practicing there every day when I’m in New York.”
She went on: “I’m not going to look at it as “I really want to get to the fourth round.” I want to go match by match like I did at the ’09 US Open. I wasn’t even thinking ahead, but just one point at a time and hoping to do well… I know that I can do it again.”
And when asked if she would partner up with Sock again this summer, she emphatically answered, “Yes, Jack and I are going to play mixed doubles again. We have to defend the title!”