NEW YORK — Novak Djokovic reached the U.S. Open's fourth round for the fourth straight year, eliminating wild card James Blake in straight sets Saturday night.
Djokovic, seeded third, beat Blake, a Tampa resident, in wind-whipped Arthur Ashe Stadium 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. He made only 13 unforced errors, 18 fewer than Blake.
"It's a big mental struggle, when you have such a strong wind, to find a way how to try to play good tennis," Djokovic said, "especially if you have somebody across the net who is so aggressive, taking everything early and playing a risky game."
Djokovic next faces 19th seed Mardy Fish, also a Tampa resident.
Blake is a two-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist but not since 2006. Once ranked in the top five, Blake, 30, is 108th after a series of injuries and poor results. He said he plans to take the next six weeks off. As for his longer-term future, Blake said he aims to play in the 2011 Open and hopes Saturday's match wasn't his last here.
"If it was, you know, I competed my heart out. I did everything I could," Blake said. "But I think I got more in me, and I think I'm going to be back there."
Fish outlasted Arnaud Clement, at 32 the oldest man left in the tournament, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. This is Fish's best performance at a Grand Slam this year.
After knee surgery in September 2009, Fish set about changing his diet and trimming his body. He has lost more than 30 pounds to get down to about 170.
"He's playing maybe his best tennis at this moment," Djokovic said. "He's moving really well. He's serving as good as he served always. He has a lot of talent. He's recognizing the moment, coming to the net. He has a lot of variety in the game."
On the women's side, 2006 champion Maria Sharapova set up a fourth-round showdown with No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki by blanking 371st-ranked Beatrice Capra 6-0, 6-0.
Capra, 18, was this year's unknown American teen on a hot streak in the tournament, a wild-card entrant in her first tour-level, main-draw event. Capra, who's from Ellicott City, Md., and trains at Chris Evert's tennis academy in Boca Raton, beat 95th-ranked Karolina Sprem in the first round and 18th seed Aravane Rezai in the second, and ended up putting Sharapova in a deja vu spot.
Last year the Russian faced an unknown American teen on a hot streak in the tournament, and she lost to Melanie Oudin, who ended up in the quarterfinals.
"This was a new day," Sharapova said. "And what happened last year — I didn't really want to go into the match thinking about it."
"She doesn't give you anything," Capra said of Sharapova, "Even though she's beating me that badly, she's still so focused."
Venus Williams is now the only U.S. woman left in the field.
Evert was encouraged by Capra's surprising run. "She's a work in progress," she told the New York Times by phone. "Everything in Maria's game is a lot better. (Capra) right now has nothing to hurt her with."
Women's round of 16
|Fourth round||Quarterfinals||Semifinal||Championship||Semifinal||Quarterfinals||Fourth round|
|C. Wozniacki (1)||F. Schiavone (6)|
|M. Sharapova (14)||A. Pavlyuchenkova (20)|
|S. Kuznetsova (11)||S. Peer (16)|
|D. Cibulkova||V. Williams (3)|
|Friday||8 Saturday, Ch. 10||Friday|
|K. Kanepi (31)||S. Stosur (5)|
|Y. Wickmayer (15)||Dementieva (12)|
|A. Petkovic||A. Ivanovic|
|V. Zvonareva (7)||K. Clijsters (2)|