Thursday, September 2, 2010

Capra Upsets No. 18 Seed Rezai to Reach Third Round at U.S. Open

Capra’s Game Style and Composure Lead to Upset of Rezai

Eighteen-year-old Beatrice Capra, a 371st-ranked amateur still debating her professional future, earned her upset of No. 18 seed Aravane Rezai of France today by taking advantage of the hot and windy conditions on the Grandstand. But Capra also showed great maturity in sticking to her game plan and refusing to be intimidated by the status and ball-striking ability of her opponent. That patience helped lead her to a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 victory.

Capra took a quick 2-0 lead in the first set, but Rezai won four straight games, despite a rash of unforced errors. This is where the Maryland teen could have begun doubting herself, but she held serve and got the break back with outstanding defense.

Capra doesn’t hit many outright winners—she had 18 in the match, compared with 30 unforced errors—and doesn’t claim to be fast or quick. But her anticipation is uncanny, and she knows when and how to put up a defensive lob to reset a point. With Rezai eager to blast winners, but unable to time the ball properly in the breezy conditions, Capra knew her success depended on keeping Rezai from finding her rhythm. Capra came to the net to put away volleys, served well on big points, went for her shots when against the wind, and shrugged off the occasional spectacular winner from the Frenchwoman.

After seizing her first set point with Rezai serving at 5-6 in the first, Capra was immediately down 3-0 in the second set. Rezai began to clean up her play, making Capra earn the points she won in the second set. But despite losing the set 6-2, Capra betrayed no signs of discouragement.

As the match approached the 90-minute mark, the heat also became a factor, but Capra had already passed her toughest test in that department two weeks ago at the USTA wild card tournament held in Boca Raton. By winning three matches in conditions even hotter and more humid than this week in New York, Capra knew her fitness level could handle a third set.

She saved a crucial break point serving in the opening game of the third set, and went on to break to take a 4-1 lead. This is a dangerous time for any player—up a break in the final set of a big match, and so it proved to Capra, who was broken at love serving at 4-2. She played poorly in that game, but was able to keep her frustration in check and focus on the next game.

With Rezai serving at 3-4, Capra had two early break points, but stayed patient when Rezai saved both of them and then one more. Capra’s rock-solid two-handed backhand found the lines several times in that game, and when Rezai double faulted on the fourth break point, Capra would serve for the match.

That double fault was an indication that the 20th-ranked Rezai was feeling the pressure, and so it proved in the final game. On the critical 30-all point, she hit a backhand wide, her 48th unforced error, giving Capra a match point, the only one she would need.

It was the match in microcosm. Capra fought off Rezai’s power with a towering and deep defensive lob, and attempting to put it away from the baseline, Rezai instead put it into the net.

Capra, now into the third round of her first-ever WTA level main draw, had demonstrated how a belief in her personal game style, along with confidence and focus, could compensate for a lack of pro tour experience.