NEW YORK (Reuters) - Midnight struck early for 2009 U.S. Open Cinderella Melanie Oudin at this year’s championship as the 18-year-old American succumbed to nerves and the steady groundstrokes of Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko on Wednesday.
Oudin, who blazed into the quarter-finals last year riding the support of the thunderous Flushing Meadows crowds, said she felt tight and did not play to potential in her 6-2 7-5 loss to the 29th seed.
“I think the nerves got the best of me today a little bit,” said Oudin, who made 21 unforced errors in the first set and 38 in total.
Last year, Oudin came from nowhere to upset ranked Russians Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova but came up short against Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals.
Oudin, the highest ranked American woman after Serena and Venus Williams, admitted to having trouble dealing with the heightened expectations heading into this year’s U.S. Open.
“It’s tough coming back, especially after the U.S. Open I had last year, and expecting to do that well again,” she said.
“The expectations for me from the fans were extremely high. You could tell by the crowd. The second I walked out there, people expected me to win again like last year.”
Oudin, who finished last season at number 49, entered the Open at number 43 despite disappointing results in the year’s grand slams. She lost in the first round at the Australian and French Opens and failed pass the second round at Wimbledon.
“I still have hopefully like 10 more years in my career, hopefully 10 more U.S. Opens ahead of me,” she said.
“I’ll definitely be looking forward again to next year. This is still my favorite tournament.”
Editing by Frank Pingue