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September 7, 2009

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Fans find emerging talent in Oudin

FANS embraced a new darling at the US Open on Saturday, showering 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin with encouragement and affection after her 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 upset win over 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in New York.

"I thought it was fantastic," Roopram Ramharack of Long Island said in the National Tennis Center plaza where thousands of fans gathered to watch Saturday's third-round match on a giant TV screen.

As some 23,000 fans roared inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, those that could not cram into center court watched from among the restaurants, bars and the fountains of the plaza.

"The last match like this might have been Serena," he said. "When she came, I think she was also pretty young and she made it all the way. I think it would be fantastic if this girl takes it all the way. That would be an incredible upset."

Oudin became the youngest American woman to reach the fourth round since Serena Williams's title run in 1999.

"The crowd was totally in her corner, completely behind her," said Mayur Saxena of New York. "And that was surprising because Sharapova is normally a very sympathetic opponent. She just deserved it. She played a better match.

Jake Lester, a tennis coach from Durham, North Carolina, was impressed by the young American.

"I thought it was amazing. I thought the way she played was extremely consistent and she kept fighting all the time," he said.


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