U.S. Open Slice, Day 8: Oudin fights on with a smile

First serve

The most refreshing thing about the best story of this U.S. Open is that Melanie Oudin doesn't seem to be a typical product of tennis' endless conveyor belt of talent.

Oudin's game is built on tenacity and grit and instinct, a far cry from the countless robots clogging up the women's game with their monotonous, predictable groundstrokes.

Even more pleasingly is that while Oudin fought like a tiger in her fourth-round victory over Nadia Petrova on Monday, she plays with genuine passion and a smile on her face.

Her parents, John and Leslie, and twin sister Katherine looked on with tears of pride in their eyes and shared in the moment of glory that few could have predicted.

And even though Oudin was home-schooled from seventh-grade onward, she is very much a regular teenager, albeit one with a special sporting talent.

Her post-match interview with Mary Joe Fernandez further endeared her to the New York crowd and the delight and excitement on her face was a joy to behold.

But hang on a minute - this fairy tale hasn't run its full course just yet. The way Oudin is playing she has a very real chance of beating ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the quarters.

If Oudin emerges through that contest she would be a favorite in her semifinal against either Kateryna Bondarenko or Yanina Wickmayer.

The story of the championships could have a few more chapters left to run.

Drop shot

Nikolay Davydenko was unable to shed any significant light on why he was forced to pull out of his fourth-round clash with Robin Soderling while trailing two sets to one.

Indeed, Davydenko's meltdown seemed to be as much mental as physical. When asked what happened, the Russian answered: "Where?" Bizarre.

Clean winner

Bondarenko didn't show any nerves in her first fourth-round appearance at a Slam while kicking off the action on Arthur Ashe. She destroyed Gisela Dulko 6-0, 6-0 with a sensational performance and will face Wickmayer in the quarterfinals.

Upset alert

Juan Carlos Ferrero hopes to continue his superb run against Juan Martin del Potro on Louis Armstrong. The 24th-seeded Spaniard has the defense and movement to combat del Potro's huge hitting and has a chance to spring a big surprise.

Match of the day

Once again, it was Melanie Oudin who provided the most notable thrills and spills to electrify this tournament with a third straight upset.

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