Melanie Oudin did not reach the Family Circle Cup semifinals as Ashley Harkleroad did in 2003 as a popular upstart teen from Georgia, but the 17-year-old qualifier from Marietta, Ga., had lots of crowd support.
"I think the fans really like me here," Oudin said Thursday after her 6-4, 6-1 loss to No. 6 seed Marion Bartoli of France. "Everyone was cheering for me."
Oudin, No. 176 in the WTA Tour rankings, will move way up after Family Circle Cup wins over Olga Savchuk and No. 9 seed Aleksandra Wozniak to get to the round of 16.
She has been selected by coach Mary Joe Fernandez to the U.S. Fed Cup team, which also includes Family Circle Cup participants Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Alexa Glatch. The U.S. plays Fed Cup matches in the Czech Republic next week, and Oudin's performance this week could boost her role on the team.
"This is like a stepping stone for me," said Oudin, who had to qualify for the Family Circle Cup. "I'm glad I played qualifying, so I got some matches in. My win yesterday (over Wozniak), I played maybe flawless tennis, so it's kind of hard to play better than that ... I was happy with my week. I played five good matches, and I'm just hoping that I just keep getting better."
Fifth-ranked Venus Williams is the highest-ranked player 19-year-old Sabine Lisicki has ever beaten. But the rising German star was not ready to call the 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Venus the biggest of her career.
A Fed Cup victory over American Lindsay Davenport, in 2008, also ranks high on her list.
"I think the win against Lindsay Davenport was really big for me, as well," said Lisicki, who is ranked No. 63 in the world. "Representing my country and beating her in my first Fed Cup experience."
Two in a row?
Fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki's chances of winning two weeks in a row on the WTA Tour might have received a boost Thursday. With the elimination of second-seeded Williams, No. 3 Vera Zvonareva and No. 4 Nadia Petrova, Wozniacki and top-seeded Elena Dementieva are the top seeds left. They would meet in the semifinals.
Wozniacki, an 18-year-old from Denmark, won five matches while taking the MPS Group Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., last week, and beat 10th-seeded Shuai Peng, 6-3, 6-4, on Thursday.
"I feel a little bit tired," she said. "I can feel my legs right now, so I'm going to have some good food to eat and get a good massage and try to get ready for (today)."
Wozniacki will face No. 13 seed Virginie Razzano in the quarterfinals today. She beat Razzano, 6-3, 7-5, last week in the round of 16.
It was good news and bad news Thursday on the attendance front. The day-session crowd of 7,506 was the fourth largest for a Thursday since the Family Circle Cup came to Charleston in 2001. But the night crowd of 4,903 was the smallest for any night session since 2001.
Attendance now stands at 54,209 this year with four sessions to go.
Bake sale, anyone?
The Great American Bake Sale starts today and runs through Sunday (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day) at the Family Circle Magazine tent on sponsor row. The sale is sponsored by Domino Sugar and C&H and is part of a promotion encouraging Americans to hold bake sales to help end childhood hunger.
Cliff Beilke, an 8-year-old who attends Mount Pleasant's East Cooper Montessori Charter School, took part in a ceremonial pre-match coin toss before Williams played Lisicki.
Interesting music over the public address system at Family Circle Stadium Court on Wednesday: Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" during the Patty Schnyder-Elena Vesnina match. On Thursday: Elvis Presley's "Burning Love" before the Bartoli-Oudin match, and Ozzy Osborne's "Crazy Train" as Williams played Lisicki. And after Zvonareva went down with an ankle injury Thursday night, Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" blared.