FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Maria Sharapova knows a thing or two about facing the up and comer. Last year she ran into a buzz-saw named Melanie Oudin in the third round and was forced to go home.
Now after her 6-1 6-2 win over Iveta Benesova, the Russian beauty will be facing another up and coming American in Beatrice Capra.
“I know that she’s American and she’s 18, I believe (laughter), and she’s in the third round of the Open. So that says a lot,” Sharapova said.
The funny thing is, Sharapova is one of Capra’s idols and someone she used as inspiration as a young girl. It’s surprising to Sharapova, since she’s only 23.
“Yeah, it’s pretty crazy because I still somewhat consider myself pretty young, as well; I’d like to think so, at least,” she said. “You know, to see someone coming up that’s 18, that’s a lot younger than I am, in the third round of the Open is great. I think it shows a lot about the younger generation that’s coming up. To see someone especially that’s an American and doing well at the Open is really great.”
Sharapova says she’s pretty uncomfortable with all the attention. She thinks she’s far from perfect and at such a young age, it’s hard to be a mentor.
“It’s really strange because I’ve always had a difficult time accepting, you know, when little kids, whether I’m doing a clinic, talking to them, when they tell me they want to be just like me not only is a bit overwhelming and a bit of a shock, it’s kind of strange,” Sharapova said. “I mean, I’m certainly far from perfect. I have many things I’m not good at. I always say to them, You should want to be better than me or anyone else.”
“I think maybe that’s one of the reasons growing up, you know, I idolized a certain part of someone’s game but I never thought that someone was so good that I wanted to be like them. I think that’s a good point is, you know, she probably said one of my strengths. Obviously, that’s something that’s gotten me through so many matches in my career. In tennis, being strong and steady mentally sometimes more than physically is more important on certain days.”
Mentoring aside Sharapova is used to the royal treatment by the fans at Arthur Ashe, but doesn’t expect it on Saturday when she plays Capra. Much like last year, the American crowd will go with their favorite daughter rather than a Russian national who happens to live in the United States.
“I think it’s absolutely understandable,” Sharapova said. “We’re playing in New York. When you have someone that’s coming up, having a great Open, I mean, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be any support behind her.”
So we will see on Saturday when the young Capra steps on the court for to take on her idol. Maybe this year, Sharapova will have some memories to come from the match, unlike the Oudin match.
“Why do we need to remember that one?” she said.