NEW YORK (Reuters) - Russia's Maria Sharapova has rediscovered the ruthless streak that took her to the top of the tennis world and it could soon land her a second U.S. Open crown.
The Russian has not won a grand slam title since the 2008 Australian Open and after her career was stalled by a shoulder injury is only now getting back to her best.
Her fitness has been steadily improving, but on Saturday she showed that she still has the predatory instincts of a killer, destroying American teenager Beatrice Capra 6-0 6-0 inside a breezy Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I don't really think about the score. I just think about winning the next point," she said.
Sharapova's win took her through to the last 16 in New York for the first time since she won the championship in 2006 and erased some of the disappointment of her shock exit 12 months ago to another American teenager, Melanie Oudin, although she was adamant revenge played no part.
"This was a new day. What happened last year, I didn't really want to go into the match thinking about it," she said. "Obviously I had lost the match and made way too many unforced errors. But on a day like today, I just wanted to make sure I was consistent and did the right thing."
Despite showing no mercy against Capra, Sharapova said she felt some sympathy for the American playing on the center court on a day when gusting winds made it almost impossible to play her best.
"It's obviously really unfortunate that she had to come out for the first time on Ashe and be in those types of conditions," Sharapova said. "I think I had a little bit too much firepower in the beginning and that kind of really maybe caught her offguard and she was late for a few balls.
Sharapova has only dropped one set in getting to the fourth round but faces a tougher challenge against top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the next round.
The Dane won three tournaments last month and has been almost unstoppable at Flushing Meadows, giving up only three games in three matches.
"She's playing probably the best tennis of her career," Sharapova said. "She was a finalist here last year so she is very familiar with this court. it'll be tough but I'm looking forward to it."
Editing by Frank Pingue