NEW YORK (AP) —
Goodbye, Melanie Oudin. Hello, Beatrice Capra.
The day after the sensation of last year’s U.S. Open was quietly ousted, another 18-year-old American made her way unexpectedly to the third round.
Capra, a wild-card entry ranked 371st, upset 18th-seeded Aravane Rezai of France 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 on Thursday to keep her Grand Slam debut on track.
Capra, who trains at the Evert Academy in Delray Beach, Fla., is the youngest player left in the women’s field and the lowest-ranked.
She’s playing in her first tour-level main draw, and knocked off 95th-ranked Karolina Sprem in the first round. Next up could be a matchup against Maria Sharapova, who was one of Oudin’s victims last year when, at age 17, she made an attention-grabbing run to the quarterfinals.
“I watched every second of it,” Capra said of Oudin’s performance last year.
While Oudin was winning in the main draw, Capra was playing in the juniors. She had success there and this year, moved up to play a couple of events on the regular tour. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Tennis Association called her and asked her to play in a playoff to win a wild-card into the main draw. She accepted, won the playoff, and here she is.
“Every time I’ve just been given a wild card, I never do well,” Capra said. “I like earning everything.”
Watching with interest is Oudin, who remains in New York, a winner in her first-round doubles match Thursday.
“I’m really, really happy that she’s done well,” Oudin said. “For me, especially, I’m, like, great with the other American girls doing well, because she can take some of the stuff away from me. With her doing well, there can be more of us for people to pay more attention to.”
Ever since last year’s magical run at Flushing Meadows, Oudin has been on a more even-keeled learning curve — ranked 43rd in the world and with only one victory in the first three Grand Slam tournaments of 2010.
She came back to New York this year wondering if something about this city and this tournament might inspire another run. But on Wednesday she was eliminated after a disheartening 6-2, 7-5 loss to No. 29 Alona Bondarenko that brought on the sinking realization that even in the Big Apple, encores can be hard to come by.
“I guess I’m a little tiny bit relieved now,” Oudin said. “I can kind of start over from all the expectations from last year. And now I can just go out and hopefully do really well the rest of the year and keep working hard.”
Other winners in early action Thursday included 19th-seeded Mardy Fish, who defeated Pablo Cuevas 7-5, 6-0, 6-2. Fish, along with No. 18 John Isner and No. 20 Sam Querrey, are America’s best hopes after No. 9 Andy Roddick fell late Wednesday night to Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic.
“I’ve been in a lot of positions in my career, but I’ve never put myself in a Grand Slam sort of as a guy that people talk about to really do well here,” Fish said.
Also winning Thursday was top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who needed only 47 minutes to put the “double bagel” — a 6-0, 6-0 win — on Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan.
On court later Thursday afternoon was No. 2 seed Roger Federer, who is trying to win his sixth U.S. Open title.
Sharapova and third-seeded Novak Djokovic headline the night sessions.
AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.