It matters a lot to Melanie Oudin whether she wins her quarterfinal match today at the U.S. Open.
It may not matter much to her future. Her legend is already born.
The 17-year-old girl next door from Marietta is the darling of New York after three smashing upsets of higher-ranked Russian big-name players, the last of which came in a stirring comeback on Labor Day before millions.
She was a set down to Elena Dementieva in the second round, a set down to Maria Sharapova in the third round and a set down in the fourth round Monday to Nadia Petrova before beating each one. Win or lose in the quarterfinal today against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Oudin has it made. She was on Good Morning America Tuesday morning, and her All-American good looks and youth will see to it that we'll see a lot of her in the years to come; her agent's phone is already buzzing.
How has she done it? Hard work, enthusiasm and, perhaps, a beautiful naÃ¯vete: She may be too young to know any better, to know any limits.
Let's hope she can take that with her the rest of her life.