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."
It was no easy task on an afternoon when Capra's visor got blown off her head early and lets had to be called a number of times because of wind-whipped napkins, hot dog wrappers and towels blowing across the court.
Tampa resident Mardy Fish beat Arnaud Clement of France 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time since 2008 at Flushing Meadows. Five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer reached the fourth round by beating Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-3, 6-3; No. 3-seeded Novak Djokovic had no trouble getting past Tampa's James Blake 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3 at night. Fish now takes on Djokovic for a berth in the quarterfinals.
The blustery 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.
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."
Next up for Sharapova is a fourth-round match against top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, a 6-1, 6-0 winner against Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan. Before Sharapova's match, Jankovic lost 6-2, 7-6 (1) to No. 31 Kaia Kanepi.