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September 11, 2009

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Oudin's dream run in New York ends

THE dazzling US Open run by American teenager Melanie Oudin ended abruptly on Wednesday in a hail of unforced errors, while Roger Federer was tested but marched into his 22nd consecutive grand slam semifinal.

Ninth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki was steady, if unspectacular, in defeating the unseeded Oudin 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the year's final grand slam.

"I've had a great run this tournament," said the 17-year-old Oudin. "I'm a perfectionist, so...losing isn't good enough for me. Today I was a little bit fragile."

Top seed Federer overcame an inspired comeback effort by Robin Soderling to beat the 25-year-old Swede 6-0, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (6).

"It was so close towards the end," said Federer, who has beaten Soderling in all 12 career meetings, including at Wimbledon and the French Open this year. "It's a great relief to come through. He started to play better and better as the match went on."

In the semifinals, the five-time defending champion will face fourth seed Novak Djokovic, who advanced with a 7-6 (2), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco, the 10th seed.

Elsewhere, Belgium's unseeded Yanina Wickmayer dispatched Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 6-4 and set up a semifinal encounter with Wozniacki.

But the big news of Day 10 at Flushing Meadows was the quiet elimination of Oudin, the diminutive Georgian who failed to respond to the urging of the 23,000 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Oudin, who beat fourth seed Elena Dementieva and former champion Maria Sharapova en route to the quarterfinals, had 43 unforced errors during the 88-minute match against Wozniacki and only seven winners from her chief weapon, the forehand.

"I started off slow," said Oudin, ranked No. 70. "I wasn't able to come back. She's such a strong player."

The 19-year-old Wozniack became the first Danish woman to reach a grand slam semifinal.

She will now face Wickmayer, Belgium's top-ranked player, who had failed to advance past the first round in five of her six previous career grand slam appearances.

Wickmayer, 19, lost her mother to cancer at age nine and took up tennis to clear her head in the aftermath. She and her father moved from Belgium to enrol at an American tennis academy, and 10 years later she is into the final four at Flushing Meadows.

"He just gave everything up for me," Wickmayer, ranked 50th, said. "He just left. He listened to a girl that was nine years old and left his life, left his dreams. I'm always going to respect him for that."


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