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 quarter-final, 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 honour 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 medallist Elena Dementieva — to become the youngest quarter-finalist 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 five-foot-six 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.
To no one’s surprise, Oudin did make bids to get back into her match against Wozniacki.
At 1-1 in the second set, Oudin held two break points — and pushed a forehand return of a 114 km/h second serve wide, then sailed a forehand long.
Then, at 2-all, Oudin again earned two break points — and sent a backhand wide on the first, then a forehand long on the second.
And that, essentially, was that. Wozniacki won that game and each of the next four, ignoring a partisan crowd that cheered when she double-faulted.
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.
Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion, lost to Roger Federer in the 2007 final and the 2008 semifinals at Flushing Meadows.
He could meet Federer again this year: After the Oudin-Wozniacki match, Federer was to face No. 12 Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals, with the winner facing Djokovic.