The dream ended last night for 17-year-old tennis star Melanie Oudin, who lost in straight sets to Caroline Wozniacki at the U.S. Open. Oudin joined John Roberts and Carol Costello on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday to talk about her incredible run. An edited transcript of the interview is below.
John Roberts: Last year was your first U.S. Open appearance. You came in as a wild card. You were out in the first round. What was this year's experience compared to last?
Melanie Oudin: It was so much better. I wanted to get revenge this year, because it was very disappointing losing last year first round.
Roberts: Yeah, you'd been pro for all of four months…what the heck?
Oudin: Yeah. I did much better. And I’m really proud of myself for how I did.
Carol Costello: You were saying before it was a combination of everything that maybe affected your game. Tell us about that, what the pressure has been like on you, with all of the attention that you're getting.
Oudin: It's been hard. It's definitely different than what I'm used to. I'm just used to going out and playing tennis, but these two weeks have been so much more than that. It’s been lots of media and lots of different things happening and people knowing who I am now and just a lot of things, but all in all, it was good for me and it’s a good learning experience.
Roberts: In all of the big matches you had played before – against Petrova, Sharapova – you lost the first set, but you came back to win. The same thing happened last night, but just to put up this picture here of you after losing the first set to Wozniacki – it was something in your face that said, “uh-oh.” What was going through your mind?
Oudin: I knew I wasn't playing as well as I had in past matches so it was going to be hard to try to come back. And I did try, but Caroline's too strong of a player and she didn't let me back in the match at all so I couldn’t come back.
Costello: Caroline, the young woman who beat you – you were interviewed before her and she actually turned to the crowd and said, you know, I hope you're glad that I won, because she knew how much the crowd loved you.
Roberts: I’ve got the exact quote here. She said, “I'm sorry I won against Melanie today. I know many of you guys wanted her to win, but hopefully I won many of your guys' hearts and you'll be cheering for me at my next match.” You don’t often hear that from the winner.
Oudin: No, you don’t. I was really surprised to hear that. Caroline's a really nice girl.
Costello: How does it make you feel that people have embraced you like this? You had to be really disappointed and kind of angry that you lost the match, yet here's this like, overwhelming love coming at you from the crowd.
Oudin: It's pretty exciting. It's very different for me, having everyone know who I am now and stuff, but it's cool that I have a lot of new fans and people who are going to be cheering for me.
Roberts: What have you learned through this U.S. Open? For people who really understand tennis, you had more winning shots than Caroline did, but twice as many unforced errors. You had 42. It's difficult to win when you're making that many errors. What did you learn during this U.S. Open that you will take with you into the next tournament?
Oudin: I've gained confidence this tournament, that I can do this again, hopefully. And that I can compete with the best in the world, you know, no matter how highly ranked they are. I beat Sharapova, who's a huge champion, has been number one in the world before. So my confidence has definitely gone up.
Roberts: You’ve got a lot of physical toughness. Do you have to work on the mental part of the game too?
Oudin: You have to work on both, yes. Mentally, though, is a very, very important part of the game.
Costello: So you're going to go home and I think I heard you vowed you would continue to live life as normal.
Costello: What is normal for you?
Oudin: Normal is just going home and spending time with my family and going to the mall with my friends and the movies and just being a normal 17-year-old kid.
Roberts: As normal as you can be. But what about tennis? What's next for you?
Oudin: Next for me, I'm going to Asia. My next tournament’s coming up. That's going to be interesting.
Roberts: So we've got to ask you to clarify this. What was the hotel thing all about? We've got some stories that say the hotel wouldn't let you stay and other reports say, well, the hotel didn't know it was you. What happened there?
Oudin: No, it was just the fact that we had – our reservation had ended and then we just moved across the street, because they didn't really have anymore rooms. So it wasn't a big deal.
Roberts: Did your agent say, hey, wait a minute, we've got Melanie Oudin here, she needs a room?
Oudin: Apparently they didn't think that was good enough. I don’t know.