Melanie undone in Indian Wells opener
Originally published on: 12/03/10 12:32
Eighteen-year old Melanie Oudin fell at the first hurdle for the third time this year after being bundled out of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells by Roberta Vinci.
The world No.41, who exited at the same stage in Hobart and at the Australian Open in January, lost 3-6 6-3 6-0 to the 27-year-old Italian in an hour and 44 minutes, undoing the promising form she had shown throughout February.
The American – famed for her fairytale run to the quarter-finals at last year’s US Open – recovered from a rocky start to the year by going undefeated in USA’s Fed Cup win over France, before reaching the semi-finals at the Paris Indoors and the last eight at the Cellular South Cup in Memphis.
But the diminutive Oudin is fast-learning she cannot continue to dine out on her scalps of Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova at Flushing Meadows, with the similarly pocket-sized Vinci – ranked 16 places below her – proving a stern enough test in Indian Wells.
Vinci battled back from the loss of the first set, before taking all three of the break point opportunities she earned in the final set at the first attempt. The Italian will face two-time champ and last week’s Monterrey Open finalist Daniela Hantuchova in round two.
In the men’s draw, former world No.1 Carlos Moya set up a second round meeting with Thomaz Bellucci after edging past American qualifier Tim Smyczek. Pressed by the 22-year-old from Milwaukee on his ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament debut, Moya fought off stiff resistance to triumph 7-6(7) 7-6(5) on his match point.
“I was nervous when I was closing the match,” admitted the 33-year-old, before telling the assembled crowd; “I’m hitting well, I’m happy to be here with you.”
Teenager Ryan Harrison ended his two-year wait for a second tour-level win after triumphing 6-3 6-4 in an all-American clash with Taylor Dent. The 17-year-old wildcard – currently ranked No.284 in the world – earned his only tour victory on the Houston clay back in 2008 after defeating Pablo Cuevas, but had lost all four of his main draw appearances since.
A break of serve in each set was enough to see him through the battle with his regular practice partner, and Ivan Ljubicic awaits the promising youngster in round two.
Harrison’s countryman Mardy Fish will be Novak Djokovic’s first opponent of the tournament after he recovered from the loss of the first set to defeat Michael Berrer 1-6 6-1 6-3.
Berrer managed to convert all three of his opportunities to break in the first set, before 28-year-old Fish inflicted the reverse on his opponent, then rallied through the third to claim the match.
Defeated in the 2008 final, Fish now has the opportunity to avenge his previous Indian Wells loss to the Serb – who comes into the tie fresh off a recent victory over the US, having helped his nation to the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup for the first time in their history.