Saturday, September 5, 2009

17-Year-Old American Defeats Sharapova at U.S. Open

Saturday, September 05, 2009

NEW YORK — She sat there in shock. Then, the tears started falling.

Believe it or not, 17-year-old Melanie Oudin is the toast of the town at the U.S. Open.

Gritting her way through a shaky third set, the 70th-ranked player from Marietta, Ga., pulled off her second upset of the Open on Saturday, defeating a more-seasoned, more-famous, more-moneyed opponent — 29th-seeded Maria Sharapova, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

"I don't even know what to say right now," Oudin said, choking back tears in her postmatch interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium. "Thank you so much for cheering for me."

Sharapova, who has won this tournament once, usually gets those cheers. But on this cloudless day in Queens, the fans were rooting for a new potential queen — the one who stamped the word "Believe" on her shoes, but probably didn't see this coming so soon.

"My goal was to make the top 50," she said. "But if I keep playing like this, who knows? Hopefully, I can get as high as anything."

She added this upset to one over No. 4 Elena Dementieva in the second round and a win over former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic earlier this year at Wimbledon.

Sharapova, though, was the biggest name in the bunch. Oudin's confidence is growing as quickly as her resume, and suddenly, it does seem like anything is possible.

"Yeah, why not?" Sharapova said. "I think with experience and playing tournaments and being in situations where she's playing these kind of matches, considering her age, she certainly has a great amount of potential."

Oudin's fourth-round match is against No. 13 Nadia Petrova of Russia, though there's a sense she may have already knocked out the two toughest players on her side of the draw. No. 5 Jankovic is also gone, along with No. 11 Ana Ivanovic. No. 1 Dinara Safina is still there, but she has been playing poorly.

The Williams sisters are on the other side of the draw and it may not be too early to dream about the third-best American, Oudin, going against one of the two best for the U.S. title.

"I learned, once again, proved to myself that I can compete with these top girls," Oudin said. "And if I believe in myself and my game, then I can beat them."

In men's play, No. 1 Roger Federer extended his winning streak to 37 at the U.S. Open, overcoming some shaky play for a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 31 Lleyton Hewitt.

It was Federer's 14th straight victory over Hewitt, a former No. 1 who won the U.S. Open in 2001.

"I just had to believe that I could still turn this around," Federer said. "And with the great streak I have against him, I knew that if I could get back into the match then I could get back on a roll, because I've done it so many times against him."

Other winners on the men's side included 15th-seeded Radek Stepanek, 10th-seeded Fernando Verdasco, eighth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, and fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, who ended 276th-ranked American Jesse Witten's surprising run. Also gone is 22nd-seeded Sam Querrey, a 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 loser to No. 12 Robin Soderling.

Oudin and Sharapova followed Federer onto the show court but Sharapova did not put on a headliner's performance.

She served 21 double-faults — the equivalent of five-plus games — committed 63 unforced errors and clearly hasn't rounded fully into form after nearly 10 months off with a shoulder injury that forced her to miss the trip to Flushing Meadows last year.

Sharapova and Oudin traded three breaks each through the first eight games of the third set, then Oudin got a fourth break to go ahead 5-4. She responded by holding serve, closing the match with a cross-court winner off a short counterpunch from Sharapova.

Oudin dropped her racket and choked back tears, shook hands with Sharapova and walked to her chair, shaking, clearly having trouble believing what had taken place.

But, yes, that happened.

"Someone asked me this question at Wimbledon, 'How I would describe the whole experience,'" she said. "There's not really one word. Everything about it is just unbelievable. But basically I love to play tennis, and that's why I'm here. I'm loving it."

Friday, September 4, 2009

People With Thin Thighs Die Sooner, Study Finds


Friday, September 04, 2009

People who have agonized over their fat thighs might be able to relax a bit — Danish doctors said on Thursday they found patients with the thinnest thighs died sooner than the more endowed.

Obesity, age, smoking and other factors did not reduce the effect, the researchers reported in the British Medical Journal.

"Our results suggest that there might be an increased risk of premature death related to thigh size," Berit Heitmann of Copenhagen University Hospital and Peder Frederiksen of Glostrup University Hospital wrote.

The explanation may lie in many different studies that suggest where you gain your weight is a strong factor in how it affects health. People with lots of abdominal fat — wrapped in and around the internal organs — appear to be at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other ills.

So-called pear-shaped people may have lower risks, even if they have more body fat overall.

Heitmann and Frederiksen studied 1,436 men and 1,380 women taking part in a larger medical research study who were examined in 1987 and 1988, then watched them for more than 12 years.

Men and women whose thighs were less than 24 inches in circumference were more likely to die during those 12 years, they found.

Those with the thinnest thighs — less than 18 inches — were more than twice likely to have died within 12 years, they reported in the study, published at

Dozens of studies have shown waist size can also be a good predictor of heart disease and death.

Women with a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches and men whose waists are more than 40 inches have a much higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and early death than people with smaller waists — regardless of how much body fat they have overall.

This is again linked to abdominal fat. Fat laid down under the skin, as when it is found on the legs, may be healthier for the body, although the mechanism is unclear.

The Danish team said they hoped thigh measurements might be an equally good indicator. But Dr. Ian Scott of Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, disagreed, saying the statistics in the Danish study were too limited.

He said larger studies would need to be done before doctors could decide that thigh measurement was any kind of good predictor of health.

"It seems unlikely that thigh circumference will be clinically useful," Scott wrote in a commentary.

Tim Olds, a professor of Health Sciences at the University of South Australia, saw some value in the study, however.

"This is a very interesting line of research, because it would suggest that interventions which protect or increase muscle mass (such as weight training) may be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease even if no loss of body fat occurs," Olds said in a statement.