Thursday, September 02, 2010

US.4- It's a Wonderful Win

Every time an Opinionated Pastry hits a backhand into the net, a Bannerette gets her wings. At least that was the case on Day 4.

Cap-ra-esque [kap-ruh-esk] - adj. - 1. Relating to or in the style of the movies of Frank Capra, focusing on courage and its positive effects and the triumph of the underdog. 2. Any reference to American tennis player Beatrice Capra at the 2010 U.S. Open.

18-year old Capra, an Evert Academy production ranked #371 in the world who got into this Open by winning the USTA's eight-player playoff tournament to earn a main draw wild card, took a major step into "The Oudin Zone" today when she faced off against #18-seed Aravane Rezai. After not having a main draw tour match win to her credit before she defeated Karolina Sprem in the 1st Round two days ago, Capra is now one victory away from becoming the latest insta-star at the U.S. Open.

That victory might not come in two days time, but the prospect of it should produce some fun in the meantime.

Playing a defense-dominant game that seeks to draw errors from her opponent (hmmm, remind you of another teenaged American star at an Open not that long ago?), Capra took the opening set from Rezai, then led 4-1 in the 3rd after the Frenchwoman had knotted the match by taking the 2nd. Capra was only up a single service break, though, and Rezai's supercharged groundstrokes erased that by breaking the American at love to get to 4-3. But after so many early round Open matches in which young underdogs have crumbled in crunch time, Capra held firm when her moment of truth arrived.

A pair of crosscourt winners out of Rezai's reach gave Capra a break point on the Pastry's serve. When Rezai double-faulted, Capra served for the match at 5-3. She held without too much drama, officially wrapping things up when Rezai's aforementinoed backhand error from the backcourt, off a high-bouncing Capra retrieval, sailed long. Less than twenty-four hours after 2009's Open homecoming princess retired her tiara in her 2nd Round match against Alona Bondarenko, Capra slipped her 210 version on.

Well, almost. The "coming out party" hasn't quite yet become truly "serious," but you can't help but hear the whispers of "Oudin" in the background. After her match on ESPN2, she was even asked what HER shoe-emblazond motto might be, following in the footsteps of Little MO's brilliant "Believe" and not-quite-as-brilliant "Courage." Right on cue, Capra said, "Fight."


The thing is, Capra is an even less experienced and more shocking survivor in this tournament than Oudin was a year ago. Oudin had Fed Cup heroics and a Wimbledon win over Jelena Jankovic in her memory bank before her historic run, while Capra's best moments before this week had all come in the junior tennis ranks. Of course, Capra could get her "Oudin II" stripes soon. She'll likely face Maria Sharapova next... the same Sharapova that Oudin beat in NYC in '09. After that, if she pulled another magic moment out of her surely-to-be-loaded-with-more-endorsement-patches-soon hat, she'd probably face Caroline Wozniacki... the same Wozniacki who finally ended Oudin's Open run in the QF last year.

Eerie, huh?

In fact, you'd almost think that FRANK Capra was behind this story. In the Golden Age of American movies, director Capra might have envisioned a similar series of unlikely black-and-white coincidences like this. Critics might scoff at the unnatural/contrived chronology of such events, but audiences would eat up the feel-good drama for generations. The same goes for the possibly of an in-living-color TRICE (sort of like "tree-see") Capra run that lasts at least a few more days.

In Capra's holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey realized that he was in the "real world" again when he reached into his pocket and found the flower petals that his daughter Zuzu had placed there. Once he found them, he knew all was well. He had another chance to make things right. With one big win on Day 4, Capra has suddenly because Zuzu's petals. After all the hand-wringing about this Open before it began, the so-called questions about whether or not Wozniacki deserved to be seeded #1 (she does), and then Victoria Azarenka's nose dive from ground level yesterday, Capra proved today that the restorative power of one player, one moment, to instill a welcome sense of expected wonder into a grand slam is still alive and well in the WTA.


"(Today's win was) defininitely the best moment of my life," said Capra.

Whoa! Hold on, Zuzu. Keep some extra room in your memory box for a few more petals. Because you just never know what might happen next. Just ask Melanie.

If it did, though... why, it'd be a positively Capraesque moment.

...anyone else find it VERY interesting that Andy Roddick didn't even get a warning (and likely won't be fined) for berating a linesperson last night after she called him for a foot fault (one of many he committed during the match)? During the next break in the action of the match, the linesperson was even removed from the court by the chair umpire and replaced with a new official.

Let me see. Serena berates an official for a foot fault call last year and is penalized a point (on match point, no less), fined a record amount, declared sport's public enemy #1 overnight and is the subject of discussions about whether or not she should be banned from multiple slams because of her behavior, while Roddick is essentially given an "out" by the chair umpire, who seemed to "agree" with his actions, and a pass by most of the same commentators who blathered on and on and on and on about Williams for days one year ago at this very tournament.

Double-standard, much?

...elsewhere, Vera Zvonareva nearly stumbled today against Sabine Lisicki, but she held on and lived to fight another day. Up 6-1/4-2, the Russian saw the German fight back to 4-4 and push the set into a tie-break. Watching this happen, you couldn't help but figure that if Zvonareva lost the set, things could get very ugly -- in that oh-so-Vera sort of way -- in the 3rd.

But she pulled it out, winning 6-1/7-6 and saving the life of at least one racket in her tennis bag on this day. Not to mention a newly-painted net post, a few cups, the chair, any tape she might have had wrapped around any part of her body, an insect or two, any low-flying birds... Well, you get the idea.

...later in the afternoon, Caroline Wozniacki proved to be in even better form in her 2nd Round match than she was in her 1st. After knocking out Chelsey Gullickson 6-1/6-1 the other night, she took down Chang Kai-Chen 6-0/6-0 on Day 4. With a 24-2 game record through two rounds, C-Woz thus maintains a slight edge over the only 2010 grand slam singles title-winner in this draw -- Francesca Schiavone. The Italian vet is 24-4 so far.

Speaking of Gullickson, she and her sister Carly made this all-sister slam debut on Day 4, opening their Women's Doubles competition with a 1st Round win over the Italian team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 6-2/6-3. other matches, Yanina Wickmayer continued her barely-noticed trip through the draw with a straight sets win over Julia Goerges, Patty "Still Not Through Yet" Schnyder advanced past #22-seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Lourdes Dominguez-Lino's win (over Urszula Radwanska) advanced yet another qualfier further into the draw, and Li Na's "unGrand Slam" run finally came to an official end.

Li's 1st Round conqueror, Kateryna Bondarenko, lost in three sets to Dominika Cibulkova 6-2/5-7/7-6, meaning the string of eventual champions to defeat the Chinese vet along their slam path to victory ends at four.

Also, as I'm posting this, Jelena Jankovic just took down Mirjana Lucic in a break-fest of a match, 6-4/3-6/6-2, JJ's second straight three-setter in this tournament. The drama of her 1st Round match didn't really develop here. But now she's got another match to work with.

...and, finally, I'll post a second Backspin later tonight after the Sharapova/Benesova match. It'll feature the Early-Round Award winners, and will tie up any other Day 4 loose ends not included here.

Beatrice Capra (WC)
Venus Williams
[still to finish 2nd Rd.]
Bethanie Mattek-Sands

TOP QUALIFIER: Michelle Larcher de Brito/POR
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #1 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: Laura Robson/GBR d. #2q Jelena Dokic/AUS 6-1/6-4
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xxx
FIRST WINNER: #6 Francesca Schiavone/ITA (def. Ayumi Morita/JPN)
FIRST SEED OUT: #8 Li Na/CHN (lost to Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR)
IT GIRL: xxx

All for Day 4. More tonight.