New York Melanie Oudin’s magical U.S. Open is over. Even the comeback kid couldn’t overturn this deficit.
Showing signs of shakiness in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, the 17-year-old Oudin got off to a slow start against No. 9-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and never really recovered, losing, 6-2, 6-2, Wednesday night.
“This has been a great experience for me. I had a great run here,” the 70th-ranked Oudin told the crowd of 23,881 during an on-court interview right after the match, an honor usually reserved for the winner. “I hope to come back next year and do even better.”
It’ll be hard to top her 2009 U.S. Open. She upset four more established players — including three-time major champion Maria Sharapova and Beijing Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva — to become the youngest quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams in 1999.
Making the story even better: Oudin’s last three victories each came after dropping the first set. But Wednesday’s start was quite inauspicious: She lost 14 of the first 18 points under the bright lights in the big city.
With “BELIEVE” stamped in all capital letters on the heels of her pink-and-yellow sneakers — and, up in the player guest box, her twin sister and coach wearing black T-shirts bearing that word, too — the 5-foot-6 Oudin certainly never gave up. Her groundstrokes let her down, though.
Oudin made 43 unforced errors, 23 more than Wozniacki. A relative veteran by comparison, the 19-year-old Wozniacki leads the women’s tour in match victories this season.
“I’m sorry that I won against Melanie today,” Wozniacki told the partisan fans, some of whom cheered when she double-faulted. “I know that many of you wanted Melanie to win.”
Now the Dane will play her first Grand Slam semifinal against another 19-year-old, Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium. The 50th-ranked Wickmayer — never before past the second round at a major tournament — beat Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, 7-5, 6-4.
The other women’s semifinal Friday features two far more familiar names: defending champion Serena Williams against 2005 champion Kim Clijsters.
In men’s action Wednesday, No. 4-seeded Novak Djokovic reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the third consecutive year, beating No. 10 Fernando Verdasco of Spain, 7-6 (2), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Iverson going to Memphis
Memphis, Tenn. — The Grizzlies admitted Wednesday that they have agreed in principle to a contract with Allen Iverson, hours after the guard tweeted that he was heading to Memphis.
The 34-year-old free agent tweeted earlier Wednesday that “God Chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career.”
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the team had agreed in principle to a contract with Iverson, and the team scheduled a news conference today open to the public at FedExForum.
Survey: Ticket prices up
New York — NFL ticket prices climbed 3.9 percent to an average of $74.99 for the 2009 season. According to Team Marketing Report’s survey released Wednesday, 21 teams either kept prices the same or lowered them.
Samford player dies
Birmingham, Ala. — Samford basketball player Jim Griffin has been found dead in his dorm room. The body of 23-year-old Griffin, a senior from Chicago, was discovered Tuesday morning in his room at Samford’s Beeson Woods residential village. A university news release indicated Griffin, a reserve forward, died in his sleep after playing in a pickup game and lifting weights Monday night. The Jefferson County coroner’s office said results of an autopsy, conducted Wednesday, would be released in about two weeks.
Gillispie considering rehab
Lexington, Ky. — An attorney for former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie says Gillispie was considering entering a rehabilitation program in Houston following his arrest on a drunken-driving charge last month.
Attorney William L. Patrick, who is representing Gillispie in his DUI case, said Wednesday he could not confirm a report by WKYT-TV in Lexington that Gillispie had entered the John Lucas Athletes After Care Program.
Gillispie was arrested on Aug. 27 following an early-morning traffic stop in Anderson County, about 30 minutes west of Lexington. He has pleaded not guilty. Patrick said a court date is still scheduled for Sept. 23 but that Gillispie will not be required to appear.
Hushovd wins Missouri stage
Rolla, Mo. — Thor Hushovd of Norway has won the third stage of the Tour of Missouri, outsprinting the pack in the final meters.
Hushovd, of Cervelo Test, made the move after a series of short-lived breakaways late in the 114.3-mile road race from Farmington to Rolla on Wednesday. Juan Jose Haedo of Saxo Bank finished second. Dario Cataldo of Quick Step was third.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish, of Columbia-HTC, had won the first two stages but finished fifth Wednesday behind Daniel Oss.
The third stage was considered one of the toughest in the weeklong race, with more than 6,000 feet of climbing. Three riders broke away from the main pack about 5 miles in, creating a gap of almost 4 minutes at one point. The race concludes Sunday in Kansas City.
American wins in Spain
Caravaca De La Cruz, Spain — American rider Tyler Farrar won the 11th stage of the Spanish Vuelta, and Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde remained the overall leader.
Farrar, who rides for Garmin-Slipstream, finished the 124.3-mile leg featuring several difficult mountain ascents in 5 hours, 11 minutes, 10 seconds.
Belgian rider Philipe Gilbert was second in the same time, ahead of Marco Marcato of Italy.
Valverde finished 14th in the same time to maintain his 7-second overall advantage over Cadel Evans, who was 12th. The Caisse D’Epargne rider’s overall time is 45:37:51.
Rutgers taps freshman QB
Piscataway, N.J. — Rutgers freshman Tom Savage will start at quarterback on Saturday against Howard. Savage, one of the most highly touted recruits to ever sign with Rutgers, played the entire second half in the Scarlet Knights’ 47-15 loss to Cincinnati on Monday night. He passed for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Greg Schiano ended two days of noncommittal answers about his starting quarterback by giving the job to Savage on Wednesday.
U.S. takes 1-0 triumph
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad — Just one more win will give the United States its sixth straight World Cup berth. Ricardo Clark scored in the 62nd minute, and the United States beat Trinidad and Tobago, 1-0, Wednesday night to move into first place in World Cup qualifying.
“It’s huge. It’s huge. It gives a little bit of space when things are getting tight in our group,” Clark said. “We knew we had to come out in this game and get a win.”
Wizards stumble, 1-0
Washington — Luciano Emilio scored in the 39th minute and D.C. United opened a five-game homestand with a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards on Wednesday night. D.C. (8-5-12) moved into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. United moved ahead of four teams fighting for the final three MLS playoff berths. Josh Wicks made five saves and notched his fifth shutout.
Stewart wins charity race
Rossburg, Ohio — Tony Stewart won his own dirt-track charity race in dominating fashion Wednesday. Stewart overtook Kenny Wallace on the 13th lap and never looked back. Clint Bowyer finished second, and Kyle Busch was third.