World No. 1 Serena Williams advanced into the second round on Tuesday after defeating up-and-coming fellow American Taylor Townsend, but all eyes were on American wildcard Catherine “Cici” Bellis after the 15 year old shocked No. 12 seed and Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
“I went into the match thinking it was going to be such a great experience, but I never thought I would come out on top winning,” said Bellis, who gained a wildcard into the tournament after winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship. “I’m still in shock about that match.”
She became the first 15 year old in almost 20 years to win a match at the US Open since the coming-out party of Anna Kournikova at age 15, before Bellis was born.
Although Williams dismissed Townsend 6-3, 6-1, she said she was impressed with the young American’s arsenal.
“She’s incredibly talented,” Williams said. “It’s awesome for American tennis. We have such an amazing future.”
It was a banner day for the red, white and blue on the women’s side Tuesday as No. 27 seed Madison Keys beat Aussie wildcard Jarmila Gajdosova 6-0, 6-3 to move into the second round, joined by unseeded players CoCo Vandeweghe who topped Donna Vekic 2-6, 6-3, 6-1; Christina McHale who outlasted South African Chanelle Scheepers 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5); Varvara Lepchenko who defeated Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5, 6-2; Vania King who outlasted former French Open champ Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; Shelby Rogers who eased past qualifier Maryna Zanevska 6-4, 6-3; and wildcard Nicole Gibbs who ground down France’s Caroline Garcia 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
Other Top 10 seeds into the second round were No. 3 Petra Kvitova rolling France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-0; No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard easing past Belarus’ Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-1; and No. 8 Ana Ivanovic overpowering American Alison Riske 6-3, 6-0.
“I’m very happy with how I played,” said Kvitova, who will next meet Czech Petra Cetkovska. “There are always nerves in the first round, and I had them this morning. It was windy conditions, but it was the same for both of us. It helped my confidence that I won some matches in New Haven.”
Bouchard is looking to turn around a 1-3 record during the U.S. summer hardcourt season entering the US Open.
“The first round of a Grand Slam is never easy, so I’m happy to get a win under my belt,” Bouchard said. “I want to get on a roll and keep the momentum going.”
Additional players on the upset tip Tuesday were New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic who edged No. 20 seed and former US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(3), and German Mona Barthel who rolled No. 32 Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-2.
Also into the second round were seeds No. 11 Flavia Pennetta who needed three sets to defeat Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro who beat Ajla Tomljanovic in three, No. 16 Victoria Azarenka who came from a set down to beat Misaki Doi, No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 23 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 24 Samantha Stosur, No. 29 Casey Dellacqua, and No. 30 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
The lone upset on the men’s side Tuesday was another teen breakthrough as 17-year-old qualifier Borna Coric of Croatia, the youngest player in the men’s draw, easily beat No. 29 seed Lukas Rosol 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
“I came here and I was only thinking about getting in the main draw,” Coric said. “That was my first goal. I said to myself, ‘If I achieve that, that’s going to be perfect.’ Now actually winning [against] a guy who is Top 30 or close, it’s just unbelievable.”
Top 10-seeded men advancing Tuesday were No. 2 Roger Federer in the night session defeating Aussie Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4); No. 4 David Ferrer beating Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2; and No. 10 Kei Nishikori easing past American wildcard Wayne Odesnik 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
“I’m very happy,” said Nishikori, who missed the Masters events at Toronto and Cincinnati with a toe injury. “I was playing really well, an almost perfect game. Couple of things I have to work on still, but I’m happy to win today. It’s not easy the first match after injury. I know how important this tournament is, and so hopefully I can go farther this week.”
Other seeded winners into the second round were No. 12 Richard Gasquet, No. 13 John Isner, No. 15 Fabio Fognini, No. 17 Roberto Bautista who beat Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-1 in the fifth, No. 20 Gael Monfils, No. 25 Ivo Karlovic who beat Jarkko Nieminen in four, No. 26 Gilles Simon, and No. 28 Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez.
Isner won in straight sets but needed two tiebreaks to dismiss NCAA singles champion Marcos Giron.
“It’s tough playing another American so early because one of us is going home,” he said. “But every time I play a younger American player, and that will happen a lot more, there’s a lot of pressure on me because I’m expected to win that match.”
The No. 28 seed Garcia-Lopez will next meet American Sam Querrey, a five-set winner over Maximo Gonzalez.
Matches to look for on Wednesday in Flushing Meadows are (6) Tomas Berdych vs. Lleyton Hewitt, (14) Marin Cilic vs. Marcos Baghdatis, (7) Grigor Dimitrov vs. Ryan Harrison, the Swiss Miss Belinda Bencic vs. (31) Kurumi Nara, and (18) Andrea Petkovic vs. the Puerto Rican riser Monica Puig.
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