McHale: 'I fought my way into the second round'

On Monday night, American teenager Christina McHale defeated Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak in a 2½-hour match on Court 17. She blogs about that first-round victory for espnW:

Waiting, waiting and more waiting. That's how I spent most of my day on Monday before I finally got on the court at around 7 p.m. for my first-round match at the U.S. Open. But it was well worth the wait. I fought my way into the second round with a tough 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 win over Aleksandra Wozniak, who was a top-40 player before being sidelined by an injury last year.

Courtesy of Christina McHale

Northern New Jersey native Christina McHale, left, shown here with friend Ludovica, center, and sister Lauren, right, in Rome in May, is enjoying lots of local support at the U.S. Open.

Down 2-0 in the third set, I focused on using my forehand to dictate play instead of thinking about the score. That's no easy task, but it paid off. Though I wasn't playing on center court, there's still nothing quite like feeling the energy of the crowd at a U.S. Open night match!

I got my first taste of the electric atmosphere here two years ago, when I played Maria Sharapova in the second round in Arthur Ashe Stadium. At the time, I was ranked near No. 400 in the world and felt completely overwhelmed on such a huge stage. Now I have far more experience under my belt and feel much more prepared. I'm hoping I can draw on past matches Wednesday when I face the No. 8 seed, Marion Bartoli. She's known for her hard, flat groundstrokes, so my goal will be to serve well (better than I did in my first-round match) and keep the ball out of her strike zone.

I'm often asked what the outside pressure is like for a young American player. Much is made of the fact that fans here are looking for the next big star, but it's just not productive to think about what others expect of me. Of course, the U.S. Open is my favorite tournament (and believe me, I would love to do well here), but all I can do is try my hardest each time I step on the court. With that in mind, I'll enjoy my off-day and wake up ready to compete Wednesday.

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