(AP) American upstart Beatrice Capra got blown away Saturday – by the excellence of Maria Sharapova and the bad, blustery conditions caused by the remnants of Hurricane Earl.
Treating the wind and an opponent with nothing to lose as mere annoyances, Sharapova put a 6-0, 6-0 thumping on Capra at the U.S. Open, ending the 18-year-old’s attempt to fashion a 2010 version of the Melanie Oudin story.
Last year in the third round, 17-year-old Oudin went into Arthur Ashe Stadium and beat Sharapova – a remarkable moment on the way to the young American’s trip to the quarterfinals.
This year, it was the same round and same court. But on a day better suited for flying a kite than hitting tennis balls, Capra never came close to duplicating that script.
“This is probably the toughest conditions we’re going to get,” Sharapova said. “But I think last year, it was a similar situation. Third round, quite windy. I had a young opponent who came out and played great tennis. Today, I wanted to make sure I came out, concentrated and was consistent.”
No. 2 Roger Federer had the same goals, and he came through. He overcame three break points in the final game to close out a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Paul-Henri Mathieu.
“The wind, it was so hard,” said Federer, in search of his sixth U.S. Open title. “I’m really relieved I’m through.”
The wind was relentless, knocking Capra’s visor off her head early in her match and creating a number of lets throughout the day because of wind-whipped napkins, hot dog wrappers and towels blowing across the court.
The conditions were the same for everyone – it’s just that some deal with it better. No. 4 Jelena Jankovic was among those who struggled, ousted early from a tournament where she never found her stride. The 14th-seeded Sharapova, a former No. 1 like Jankovic, got the job done.
“On a day like today, I just wanted to make sure I was consistent and did the right thing,” Sharapova said. “And, you know, maybe I didn’t go for the lines as much and just played smart tennis.”
Flustered by the wind and the unbending consistency of her opponent, Capra couldn’t duplicate the level she played at in her earlier wins over No. 95 Karolina Sprem and 18th-seeded Aravane Rezai.
A product of the Evert Academy who is considering attending Duke, the 371st-ranked Capra received a call from tournament officials last month asking if she wanted a spot in a playoff for a wild-card entry. She won that. And so, the U.S. Open, of all tournaments, marked the first time she’s played in the main draw of a tour-level event.
Then suddenly, she was playing Maria Sharapova.
“Before the match, she would just walk past me and kind of, like, give me a glare, which is kind of intimidating,” Capra said. “After the match when we shook hands, she was really nice. She said, `Great tournament. Keep up the hard work.’ I think she’s a really nice person.”
Capra said not even the double-bagel loss could ruin the experience.
“I mean, playing against Maria in Arthur Ashe, yeah, I’d like to do better,” she said. “But, you know, that was amazing.”
When she played Sharapova, Oudin was about 300 spots higher in the rankings than Capra. Still, it’s hard to deny that Oudin’s win last year might have had as much to do with the Russian’s preparation as her own spunky play. Sharapova had spent a good part of the year recovering from shoulder surgery in October 2008.
“Looking back, I know my game wasn’t there. I wasn’t physically ready,” Sharapova said. “I was just trying to put my feet on the ground and a year later, you hope you’re still there.”
She is, and next up is a fourth-round match against top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, a 6-1, 6-0 winner over Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan. Wozniacki, an Open runner-up last year, has lost a total of three games in three matches.
“I think it just says something about how I’ve been playing and the level I’ve been playing on,” Wozniacki said. “It’s nice.”
Before Sharapova’s match, Jankovic lost 6-2, 7-6 (1) to No. 31 Kaia Kanepi. Jankovic complained about the conditions.
“You toss the ball, and it was all over the place,” Jankovic said. “And then you hit the ball one direction, it goes another. You’re just getting ready to hit the ball and it just moves away from you.”
In men’s action, No. 5 Robin Soderling rolled to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Thiemo de Bakker. No. 17 Gael Monfils defeated Janko Tipsarevic, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4. And Richard Gasquet backed up his win over No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko with a straight-set victory over Kevin Anderson.
No. 21 Albert Montanes of Spain advanced when Kei Nishikori of Japan retired in the second set. Nishikori won a five-set, five-hour match over No. 11 Marin Cilic on Thursday but withdrew from Saturday’s match with a groin injury.
Scheduled for Saturday night in Ashe Stadium were James Blake and No. 3 Novak Djokovic, followed by an all-Russian matchup pitting No. 11 Svetlana Kuznetsova against No. 23 Maria Kirilenko.
© 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.