Melanie Oudin backhands against Loga Savchuk during their first round...

Melanie Oudin backhands against Loga Savchuk during their first round match during the U.S. Open. (Sept. 1, 2010) Credit: J. Conrad Williams Jr.

There was no comeback in Melanie Oudin yesterday.

The magic carpet ride has ended. Oudin dropped the first set to Alona Bondarenko, just as she did to three straight players at the Open last year. But unlike her fighting comebacks against Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova in 2009, Oudin didn’t have the answer for Bondarenko.

In a match mostly devoid of sparkling tennis and filled with service breaks, Oudin lost, 6-2, 7-5.

“It’s tough coming back, especially after the U.S. Open I had last year, coming back and expecting to do that well again,” said Oudin, the 18-year-old Georgian who reached the quarterfinals in ’09. “Yes, the expectations for me from the fans were extremely high. You could tell by the crowd. Even the second I walked out there, people expected me to win again like last year.”

It wasn’t to be, and never appeared that it would. Saying she was tight in the first set, Oudin didn’t put up much of a battle against Bondarenko, the 29th seed. The second set was a scruffy affair that began with four straight breaks of serve. Oudin seemed to gain a foothold when she broke Bondarenko in the eighth game and held her serve to take a 5-4 lead. It was the last game she would win. Bondarenko held serve, then broke Oudin’s serve with four straight points. She held again for the match.

Now, with this Open over, maybe last year’s will fade from the memory. “I guess I’m a little tiny bit relieved now,” Oudin said. “I can kind of start over, I can start over from all the expectations from like last year. Now I can just go out and hopefully do really well the rest of the year.”

Venus Williams ran into a storm in the first set against Rebecca Marino of Canada, a qualifier ranked No. 179 in the world. Marino outhit Williams and came within two points of winning the first set before losing it in a tiebreaker. Once the storm cell passed, Williams took control to win, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Williams showed no signs of a problem with her left knee. Having missed the summer hard-court season with a knee problem, Williams winced heavily when she landed awkwardly on her left leg during her opening match. Again yesterday, she did not have the knee taped or braced.

“Not as easy to get a rhythm today because she served so big and just kind of goes for the first shot,” said Williams, who isn’t used to being shelled unless it’s by sister Serena, the No. 1 ranked player who withdrew from the Open after a foot injury.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters had no trouble in the first match of the night session, defeating qualifier Sally Peers, 6-2, 6-1.

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