2013 US Open: Why Victoria Duval Will Not Be Another Melanie Oudin
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Victoria Duval's shocking upset over Samantha Stosur captured the hearts of tennis fans.
The 17-year-old American looks 15, sounds like she's 10 and whacks her forehand like a dude. She also handles a post-match interview like a tour veteran.
What's not to like?
However, any time a teen tennis player grabs the spotlight with a big win on the big stage, a name pops up in the conversation: Melanie Oudin.
Unfair, perhaps. But the Oudin comparison happens even for players like Sloane Stephens who produce prolonged success.
Oudin was 17 when she defeated Maria Sharapova to reach the quarterfinals at the 2009 U.S. Open. After signing lucrative endorsement deals, Oudin's career took a steady dive south. She rose to No. 44 in 2009 but is currently ranked 134.
It is way too soon to know what type of career Duval will have. However, she already has attributes in her game that separate her from Oudin.
First, Duval has more weapons than Oudin. Duval went toe-to-toe with Stosur, one of the biggest hitters on tour. Duval's racket-head speed and court coverage is reminiscent of Victoria Azarenka. She lacks Azarenka's sound play at the net, but so did Azarenka when she was 17.
Duval's shot selection against Stosur was incredible. You could see her thinking out there.
In a video about Duval's life, famed tennis instructor Nick Bollettieri likened Duval's game to that of Venus Williams. He believes she could grow as tall as 6'1".
Her serve is weak. Sometimes she serves as slow as Sara Errani, floating 70 mph balls over the net. But unlike Errani, Duval can pull out some 90 mph-plus gems. She could still develop a bigger serve.
Her placement was impeccable. And in tennis, consistency and placement come before power. Many players, like Agnieszka Radwanska, have put together impressive careers with speed, shot selection and quick thinking.
Duval is also bigger than Oudin. The WTA site lists her at 5' 9 1/2" and 154 pounds. Oudin is only 5'6", 130 pounds. That is too small in what is increasingly becoming a big girl, big guy sport. The lanky Duval could also still be growing.
Her game certainly is. Duval's coach Todd Morelle told ESPN that the teen has a huge upside to her game. "She's only going to get a lot better...She is half as good as she is going to be."
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