Melanie Oudin is up to her old tricks. The spunky American mounted an unlikely rally and surged past veteran Agnes Szavay in the quarterfinals of the $700,000 Open GDF Suez in Paris on Friday. An enthusiastic crowd wildly encouraged the underdog who at one point trailed 2-6, 1-3 against the savvy and seemingly dominant competitor.
Just as Oudin showed in last year’s U.S. Open, it is a mistake to be lulled into a false sense of security against the 5’6” roadrunner. As Elena Dementeva, Maria Sharapova, Jalena Jankoivc and Svetlana Kuznetsova all discovered in 2009, once the little fireplug sees daylight, she knows how to sprint to the finish line.
And, that’s just what she did against Szavay, a former finalist here and a ten-year pro. Oudin suddenly found her feet and began to sting forehands deep to the corners and cross-court with severe angles. Szavay, who at first had all the answers, suddenly had none as Oudin ran off 5 of the next 6 games to steal set two, 6-4. She then stormed through the third set at 6-2.
Oudin unnerved Szavay with her scrappy retrieves and newfound confidence. Suddenly, every Szavay shot was get-able and every Oudin shot was make-able. Spectators seemed to feel the energy and rallied behind the consummate overachiever.
Oudin now moves on to her first semifinals of the year. She will meet the top seed, Russi9an pretty-girl, Elena Dementieva who has something to prove against the human backboard. Dementieva, who was a prohibitive favorite to reach the finals in New York, fell to Melanie in the second round 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Dementieva had her hands full in her quarterfinal match and was forced to launch her own comeback against lightly regarded Andrea Petkovic. The two Russians went toe-to-toe as Petkovic played with a reckless abandon jumping in front 6-3, 2-0 before Elena found her game.
Dementieva survived the second set at 6-4 and then powered through the third a 6-2 to set up a re-match against the feisty American.
In the lower bracket, 2nd seed Flavia Pennetta, cruised through upstart Tathiana Garbin 6-3, 6-0 in a mismatch of baseline sluggers. Pennetta had too much pace for the gritty youngster.
Pennetta will meet 22-year old two-handed backhand specialist Lucie Safarova in the semis. Lucie caught 6th seed Shahar Peer in the first set and swept past the veteran 6-3, 6-0. Safarova reached the finals here in 2007 before falling to Nadia Petrova.
Safarova won the only previous meeting with Pennetta in the Gold Coast tournament four years ago.
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