McHale: 'I've never experienced such fan support'

On Wednesday afternoon, Christina McHale upset eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli to make it to the third round of the U.S. Open. It is McHale's best performance in eight career Grand Slam tournaments. She blogs for espnW about her latest victory:

It's not often considered a good thing when you pull a tough tournament draw. But I've had a couple of those lately (in Cincinnati and New Haven), and they turned out to be the best possible preparation for my second-round match against No. 8 seed Marion Bartoli on Wednesday afternoon.

To be honest, the day didn't exactly start as planned. I left my house in nearby Englewood Cliffs, N.J., at 9:30 a.m., but we ran into traffic and didn't make it to the U.S. Open site until 15 minutes before I was scheduled to warm up. Then I got only 20 minutes to hit before the court had to be prepared for the first match of the day. The craziness continued when a player in the match before mine retired with cramps, which pushed my start time up far earlier than expected.

Courtesy of Christina McHale

Christina McHale poses outside the players' lounge after her second-round win Wednesday.

Clearly, I wasn't completely settled going into the match, but I gradually worked my way into a rhythm. After winning the first set in a tiebreak, I found myself serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set. At that moment, the crowd roared with applause -- I had chills. I've never experienced such fan support, and I'm sure it helped me close out the match 7-6 (2), 6-2. Before going on the court that day, my coach told me not to settle for a second-round performance, but to be hungry for more. That turned out to be good advice.

After the match, I got hugs from lots of excited family and friends. I also did an on-court interview and an in-studio television interview on ESPN, which is an aspect of professional tennis I've had to get used to. Take it from me, speaking in front of thousands of people is a quick way to get over any shyness you may have.

On Friday I'll face Maria Kirilenko, who I also happen to be playing in the first round of the doubles draw Thursday. In addition to discussing my game plan with my coach as the match draws closer, I'll definitely be sticking very closely to my routine over the next couple of days. I've even been known to use the same exercise bike in the gym if things are going my way ... it can't hurt!

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