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From wild cards to Grand Slam champions – in a close mixed doubles final Friday evening, American teenagers Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock topped eighth-seeded Gisela Dulko and Eduardo Schwank 7-6(4), 4-6, (10-8) to win their first Grand Slam title.

 After both men held their serves to being, Oudin was broken at love in the third game and the Argentines consolidated the break on Dulko’s serve to lead 3-1. But Oudin and Sock hung tough – at 2-3, 30-30 on Schwank’s serve, Oudin ran backwards and struck a forehand lob winner to set up break point. Schwank subsequently hit a forehand wide to hand back the break.

 

From there, the two teams held serve and the set came down to a tie-break. The Americans opened an early lead, moving ahead 4-1, and they never looked back. Up 6-4, Oudin hit a cross-court forehand winner against Schwank’s serve to clinch the set.

 

Both teams protected their serves well for the majority of the second set. Leading 5-4, the Argentines sensed an opportunity to break. With a 0-30 opening, the crafty Dulko carved a backhand-drop-shot winner to reach three set points. They converted on their first attempt after Sock and Oudin opted not to volley Schwank’s backhand return, which landed well inside the baseline.

 

Having won two match tie-breaks en route to the final, Oudin and Sock kept their cool in the deciding set. Trailing 2-3, Oudin pulled out her protractor, curling a forehand cross-court winner past the two Argentines. Then down 4-5, Sock called off Oudin for an overhead, hitting it with authority to even the score. It gave Oudin and Sock the momentum, as the Americans won the next three points thanks to two unforced errors from Schwank’s racquet and a double fault at the hands of Dulko.

 

Dulko didn’t give up and showed why she reached No. 1 in women’s doubles, coming forward against Oudin’s serve and putting away a backhand volley to get to 6-8. But Sock, the youngest player on court, showed his fearlessness at net, poaching and putting away a forehand volley to give the Americans three championship points. The Argentines made the Americans serve it out after Schwank cracked two heavy serves to move within 8-9. Sock used every ounce of his adrenaline to place his first serve in, and Schwank’s return sailed long to end the match.

 

The victory capped off a stunning tournament for Oudin and Sock, who ousted defending champions and top seeds Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan in the second round. The two will share $150,000 in prize money.

 

Match Facts

- Oudin-Sock saved four of the five break points they faced

- Dulko-Schwank won two more points than Oudin-Sock (76 to 74)


Photo: Camerawork USA

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