Former world number one Maria Sharapova was ousted in the third round of the US Open on Saturday, with US teen giant-killer Melanie Oudin eliminating the three-time Grand Slam champion 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Oudin, two weeks shy of her 18th birthday, will play for a berth in the quarter-finals against Russian 13th seed Nadia Petrova after her third upset of a top player in two Grand Slams.
“I’m just so happy,” the tearful teen said. “I just kept fighting as hard as I could. I tried as hard as I could. I just came in believing.”
The magical run by “Oudini” began with ousting Serbian star Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon and continued when she dumped Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva in the second round on Thursday.
“If I keep playing as high as this, hopefully I can get as high as anything,” Oudin said.
Oudin stopped a run of six service breaks in a row by holding in the final game to take the match after two hours and 58 minutes, delighting a heavily pro-US crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Sharapova double faulted 21 times and committed 63 unforced errors, 19 more than Oudin, who converted only 8-of-26 break-point chances.
“I think I got lucky,” Oudin said. “She double faulted a couple of times. I was putting pressure on her second seves. I served a pretty good game in that last game. I knew I had to make some first serves.”
Sharapova, who made a May return from right shoulder surgery that kept her out of last year’s US Open, has not won a title since last year at Amelia Island, her only crown on clay.
Oudin, playing with a taped left thigh, broke to open the third set but squandered six more break chances in the fifth game – the worst blunder on the second when she sent a forehand smash long – and Sharapova held to escape.
Sharapova then called for a trainer, who massaged and stretched the 22-year-old Russian’s right upper arm muscles.
After the medical timeout, Sharapova broke Oudin to pull level 3-3, the equalizer coming when Oudin swatted a forehand wide.
Oudin answered by breaking back to 4-3, a forehand winner to finish the game eliciting a fist pump and cheers from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Sharapova answered with another break when Oudin netted a backhand, but a forehand service return winner by Oudin gave the teen her seventh break of the match and a chance to serve for the victory.
Sharapova continued their run of breaks for the fifth game in a row on a forehand volley winner to stay in the match but then surrendered her own serve with her 21st double fault, putting the match back on Oudin’s racket.
This time, Oudin was equal to the task, reaching match point when Sharapova sent a forehand wide and following a powerful serve with a forehand winner to claim the match, then dropping her racket and putting her hands on her head.
Sharapova opened the match with a break, then denied Oudin on three break points in the second game to hold. She thwarted Oudin four more times before surrendering a break in the fourth game but then broke the US teen in the fifth and seventh games to seize a 5-2 edge.
Sharapova netted a backhand to surrender a break in the eighth game but broke back again to take the first set after 52 minutes when Oudin netted a backhand.
Oudin took advantage of her first break chance for a 2-1 edge and took a 4-1 lead when Sharapova swatted a forehand beyond the baseline to give the break.
Sharapova squandered two break points in the sixth game as Oudin held, but the US teen sent a forehand long on her initial set-point and netted a forehand two points later to surrender a break to 5-3 that revived the Russian’s hopes.
Sharapova denied Oudin on three more set points to hold serve in the ninth game, then fought off two others on Oudin’s serve in the 10th game before hitting a forehand wide to send the match to a third set.