Stanford senior Mallory Burdette continues to steal the spotlight at the 2012 U.S. Open, moving into the third round following a 6-2, 6-4 win over Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic on Wednesday morning.
The victory landed Burdette in the main interview room, an unexpected visit.
"This is quite an experience," said Burdette, "and I'm really enjoying it. I think one of the biggest things I did well today was just managing my nerves, managing my thoughts out there. Yeah, every point I stuck to my rituals in between points and was just really focused on trying to be aggressive and playing my game style."
Burdette's victory set the stage for a showdown against Maria Sharapova, seeded No. 3 in the draw and ranked No. 3 in the world. Sharapova defeated Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 6-0, 6-1, in the second round later Wednesday.
The match with Sharapova, possibly on national TV and in the main Arthur Ashe Stadium, would be yet another great first-time experience for Burdette.
"I have no idea," said Burdette, when asked of what she would expect. "I have only walked out on Ashe with nobody in the stadium. Actually, at the National Indoor College Tournament they give you a little tour and we get to go out there at night. But, I have no idea. It's going to be quite an experience.
"I've always looked up to Maria. I remember sitting with my (private) coach, Nick, when she won her first Wimbledon title and talking about her game and the way that she plays. I would ceertainly love to play more like her. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Appearing as a wild card in her first career Grand Slam, Burdette had a chance to shake off any early jitters Monday night with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Switzerland's Timea Bacsinsky in the opening round.
Burdette has enjoyed a successful summer testing her game on the pro circuit, collecting singles crowns at the Hospital Tennis Classic ($10,000 USTA Pro Circuit) and Odlum Brown Vancouver Open ($200,000 USTA Pro Circuit), which earned her a main draw U.S. Open wild card. Back in July, Burdette picked up her first career WTA victory in the Bank of the West Classic opening round before hanging tough early on against 10th-ranked Marion Bartoli in a 7-5, 6-0 loss.
"This summer has been amazing," Burdette said. "One of my biggest goals as the beginning of the summer was to obviously play some of the pro tournaments and see if I just enjoyed travel and go playing these tournaments week in and week out. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed the whole process. It's been great.
"To end up here at the U.S. Open was a huge surprise. I never expected that at the beginning of the summer. I kind of thought I missed my chance at NCAAs when I lost in the finals. That wasn't even on my radar. Yeah, so it's been a crazy ride. Very exciting."
A two-time NCAA doubles champion, Burdette teamed with junior Nicole Gibbs to win this year's title one season after bringing home the 2011 crown with Hilary Barte. The 2012 NCAA singles runner-up to Gibbs, Burdette has compiled a 104-22 overall singles record in three seasons.
Burdette and Gibbs were scheduled to compete against the sister duo of Serena Williams and Venus Williams on Wednesday in the opening round before Gibbs withdrew from competition.
Burdette and Gibbs captured the 2012 NCAA doubles crown, collecting Stanford's 15th overall collegiate doubles titles in school history and eighth since the NCAA adopted its current format in 1982. Burdette and Gibbs wrapped up the year 35-5 overall, 18-2 in duals, 17-3 in tournament play and 18-4 against nationally-ranked opponents.
"Stanford is just so great," Burdette said. "You're surrounded by such amazing people in the classroom, and all the athletes there at Stanford, they work so hard. It's been a great experience for me. I have learned to handle a variety of different situations and how to manage my tennis along with schooling, along with, you know, being a captain on the team and things like that. It's just been a very valuable experience, something that I think has definitely prepared me for playing pro tennis.
"I think college tennis is a great breeding ground for players, and I definitely wasn't sure when I was 18, whether I wanted to go pro or not. I was on the fence. And so I said, I'm going to take my time. I'm going to go to college, work towards a degree, and go from there. I think it's been extremely valuable for me."
In the men's field on Wednesday, Cardinal graduate Bradley Klahn outlasted Austria's Jurgen Melzer, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, in the first round. Klahn collected his first career Grand Slam victory and concluding a historic day for Stanford tennis in the process.
"I started off a little sluggish and got broken in the first game of the match," said Klahn. "I think I finally started finding my rhythm and with that my confidence started growing with each set."
Klahn, who survived three rounds of qualifying just to earn a spot in the main draw, had never played five sets in his career before Wednesday night's match. After winning two of the first three sets, Klahn fell behind 5-2 in the fourth but battled back to tie the match at 5-5 before Melzer forced a deciding frame. The match was eventually completed in three hours and 34 minutes.
"I was pretty much in a daze out there that last set," Klahn said. "To play my first five-set match against such a tough opponent, who has been in a Grand Slam semifinal and in the top-10, it's pretty special."
Three months after closing out a tremendous college career, Klahn has been competing in professional tournaments during the summer. Despite entering the U.S. Open qualifying field as a wildcard, Klahn ripped off three consecutive straight-set victories to punch his ticket to the main draw.
A three-time All-American in both singles and doubles, Klahn posted a 130-34 overall singles record and captured five singles titles during his career on The Farm.
Klahn next will play No. 13 seed Richard Gasquet of France in the second round.