Melanie Oudin’s smile lit up the Aegon Classic on Monday after the resurgent American beat former world #1 Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-2 to claim her first WTA Tour title.
Oudin came through qualifying and won eight matches in total. Her reward was The Maud Watson trophy, a cheque for $37,000, a jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne – and a wildcard into Wimbledon.
“This was a really great tournament for me and I’m definitely looking forward to coming back,” said the 20-year-old.
“It really helped me playing qualifying here, I played better and better each match. I love playing on grass.”
That certainly showed against Jankovic, who was looking for her first title in more than two years but has been back to her clean-hitting best this week.
Oudin’s forehand was particularly impressive and she combined that with a mix of power and slice off the backhand side. “It was a great, great week for me and I definitely feel like I got better and better with each match.”
Oudin announced herself as a star of the future in 2009 when she followed a fourth-round run at Wimbledon – where she beat Jankovic – with a quarter-final appearance at the US Open.
She has had some difficult times since and she came into the Aegon Classic ranked outside the top 200.
With the title, she will move up to around the 125 mark. She learned before playing the final that she had been given a wild card into Wimbledon as recognition of her current form.
Oudin said, “I’m a lot more mature now and a lot smarter. I’ve learned a lot about the game of tennis, about my game and how I want to play, what I’m capable of. I’ve learned to play within myself, not try to do more than I can.”
For Jankovic, it was also a productive week, although she was disappointed to have missed out on a 13th career title.
“Overall I’m really pleased with the week. I had a lot of good matches here,” said the Serb after her 27th WTA singles final.
“I was happy to be competing and to be at this stage of the tournament. To be in the final is always great.
“Obviously I’m disappointed to lose in the final but at the same time it’s a good result for me right now. It’s just the beginning and it’s good for my confidence.”
Timea Babos and Su-Wei Hsieh won the Doubles title on Sunday evening, beating the top seeds Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber 7-5, 6-7 (2), 10-8.
The singles final was delayed until Monday after several days of rain.