Del Potro's fightback stuns Cilic
Argentine cuts giant Croat down to size as Oudin's fairy tale ends in heartbreak
Friday 11 September 2009
Juan Martin Del Potro will reclaim the world No 5 spot from Andy Roddick after making his second Grand Slam semi-final of the year, having also reached the same stage of the French Open. Cilic, who beat Andy Murray in the fourth round, made a good start but his mistakes multiplied as Del Potro took control to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
Next up for Del Potro will be the winner of the quarter-final between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez, which was due to be played last night. Rain was forecast, however, and was expected to continue today, leaving Nadal and Gonzalez to wonder whether they might have to play three matches in three days if they reach the final. The semi-finals are due to be played tomorrow and the final on Sunday.
A similar scenario 12 months ago helped Roger Federer, who beat Murray in the final having had 24 hours more to prepare for the match than the Scot following rain interruptions. Federer is again sitting pretty this year, having already reached the last four by beating Robin Soderling 6-0, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 in Wednesday's night session.
The world No 1, who now faces Novak Djokovic, will be playing his 22nd Grand Slam semi-final in succession. Ivan Lendl and Rod Laver, each with 10 successive appearances, stand a distant second to the Swiss in terms of consistency. Since the 2005 French Open he has missed just one Slam final, losing to Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year.
Britain's Laura Robson and Heather Watson both reached the quarter-finals of the junior tournament with impressive victories yesterday. Robson beat Tamaryn Hendler, the No 12 seed, 6-2, 6-1 and now plays the American Lauren Davis. Watson, despite letting slip big leads in both sets, beat Germany's Annika Beck 6-4, 7-5 and now faces Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, the No 2 seed.
On her way to that triumph Robson beat Melanie Oudin, who has been the most famous sportswoman in the United States for the last 10 days. In the space of a few hours on Wednesday night, however, the 17-year-old American's dreams turned to dust. Not only did Oudin's fairy-tale run end with defeat to Caroline Wozniacki but her exit also coincided with a report that her father was seeking divorce from her mother, alleging that she had had an affair with their daughter's coach, Brian de Villiers.
Beating Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva on her way to the quarter-finals, Oudin captured the country's imagination with her broad smile and on-court energy. Wozniacki, however, took advantage of an error-strewn display to win 6-2, 6-2 and earn a semi-final against Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer, who beat Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 6-4.
Oudin's mother, two sisters, boyfriend and coach have become familiar figures on television over the last fortnight. The American media have regaled the nation with stories of how Melanie's grandmother taught her to play the game, of the family's French heritage and of Melanie's respect for De Villiers.
"Brian is like another Dad to me," Melanie said after her victory over Sharapova. "I've been with him since I was nine, so basically since I started playing tournaments. I mean, our relationship has just so many things I've learned from him. We've been through a lot together."
So, allegedly, have De Villiers and Melanie's mother, Leslie. Sports Illustrated's website reported that John Oudin, Melanie's father, filed for divorce 14 months ago, alleging that she had been "unfaithful during marriage". Leslie denied the allegation, but he named De Villiers in another statement last month and claimed they admitted the affair when he confronted them.
* Josh Goodall, who has been unwell, has been replaced by Colin Fleming in Britain's Davis Cup squad for the tie against Poland in Liverpool next week.
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