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Chris Chase

America, meet 17-year-old Melanie Oudin

Chris Chase
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This is Melanie Oudin. After a three-set win over former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, the 17-year-old qualifier from Georgia advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon, joining the Williams sisters as the only Americans to do so. With this country's women's tennis scene desperate for a breakout star (it's been 12 years since we were introduced to Venus and Serena), Oudin may be American's next great hope.

The diminutive Oudin (she's just 5 feet 5 inches tall) was dominant on the junior circuit, once winning four straight international tournaments and rising all the way to No. 2 in the world rankings. Her first full season on the WTA Tour (because of age restrictions she played a reduced schedule last year) included a huge victory in the Federation Cup quarterfinals. Coming into Wimbledon she was ranked No. 123 in the world.

Her height prevents Oudin from getting as much on her serve as she'd like, but she makes up for that with a solid forehand and an excellent retun game. Her on-court demeanor has won raves from Fed Cup captain Mary Jo Fernandez and Ola Malmqvist, the director of tennis development for the USTA. The woman Oudin just beat, however, was far less complimentary of her game.

Grousing about her defeat in the way only Jelena Jankovic can, the Serbian blamed her loss on the heat, menstruation, her own poor play and, presumably, the phase of the moon. Jankovic has long been considered a drama queen in a sport full of them, so it's difficult to know whether the repeated medical attention she received today was because of any illness or her penchant for theatrics. (It was only 82 degrees in London today, far from a heat wave.)

Oudin moves on to face No. 11 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round.

Oh, and her last name is pronounced ooo-DAN, by the way. With the way she's playing, you may need to know that.

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