Catherine Bellis, of the United States, reacts after a point against Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia, during the first round of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Tuesday, in New York.
NEW YORK — American teen CiCi Bellis became the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match since 1996 — almost three years before she was born — when she stunned Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova.
The 15-year-old Bellis rallied from down a break in the third set for a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 first-round victory Tuesday over the 12th-seeded Cibulkova. With an overflow crowd at a cozy side court roaring, she broke Cibulkova’s serve to clinch the match.
“I never thought I’d come out like this,” she said in an on-court interview.
Anna Kournikova was also 15 when she won at the U.S. Open in 1996.
Bellis’ title at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship earned her a wild card into her first tour-level main draw. The Californian was the youngest champion of that event since Lindsay Davenport also won it at 15 in 1991.
When Tuesday’s match was over, Bellis ran across the court to hug members of her cheering section. She’s the youngest American to win at the U.S. Open since a 15-year-old Mary Joe Fernandez in 1986.
Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova fared far better than the last time she came to New York after winning at the All England Club. In 2011, she lost in the first round; on Tuesday, she beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-0.
The player Kvitova defeated in the Wimbledon final, Eugenie Bouchard, was back to her winning ways in her return to the Grand Slam stage.
The seventh-seeded Bouchard routed Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-1. The last time she played at a major tournament, the 20-year-old made history: the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam final.
In the Wimbledon title match, though, she was swept away by Kvitova 6-3, 6-0, and things didn’t go much better in her three hard-court tuneups for the U.S. Open. Bouchard won just one of her four matches, including an upset loss in her opener in her home tournament in Montreal.
But against the 117th-ranked Govortsova, she had little trouble. Govortsova, who has been ranked as high as 35th, had won just two main draw WTA matches this year.
Ana Ivanovic was feeling good about her game coming into the U.S. Open, and it showed Tuesday. The eighth-seeded Serb beat American Alison Riske 6-3, 6-0. Ivanovic has won 48 matches this year, more than anyone else on tour.
The 2008 French Open champion has struggled to get back to that level but finally seems to be inching closer. She returned to the top 10 this month for the first time in more than five years.
The 24-year-old Riske made a breakthrough at last year’s U.S. Open, reaching the fourth round after an upset of Petra Kvitova. She reached a career-high ranking of No. 40 this summer.
Samantha Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champ, also quickly dispatched a young American, beating Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-4. The 49th-ranked Davis fell to 0-3 at her home Grand Slam event.
Svetlana Kuznetsova lost her first-round U.S. Open match for the first time since 2005, the year she was the tournament’s defending champion. Kuznetsova, seeded 20th this time, was beaten 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3) by 82nd-ranked Marina Erakovic of New Zealand.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams play the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams faces American teen Taylor Townsend, who’s making her U.S. Open debut.
John Isner, a former top American college player, beat this year’s top American college player. The 13th-seeded Isner won 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (2) against Marcos Giron, who earned his first spot in a Grand Slam tournament when he won the NCAA title for UCLA in May.
Fellow American Sam Querrey improved to 3-9 in five-set matches with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Argentina’s Maximo Gonzalez.
Another American, Jack Sock, retired from his match because of a right calf injury. Sock was trailing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to Pablo Andujar of Spain when he decided he couldn’t continue.
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer beat Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
Tenth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan cruised to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory over American Wayne Odesnik, showing no apparent effects from a toe injury that hampered his preparations. The 176th-ranked Odesnik earned a wild card into the U.S. Open, his first appearance in five years. He served a yearlong ban after pleading guilty for importing human growth hormone into Australia.
Victor Estrella of the Dominican Republic earned his first Grand Slam victory at age 34, beating Igor Sijsling 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Estrella hadn’t played in a major tournament until this year.MORE IN Sports Wire
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