Friday, August 26, 2016

Bellis, 17, returns to main draw of U.S. Open

CiCi Bellis, shown in last month's $50,000 Stockton Challenger,
upset seventh-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck in the final round of
qualifying for the U.S. Open. Bellis pulled off a stunning upset
at Flushing Meadows two years ago. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Two years after pulling off a spectacular upset in the U.S. Open, CiCi Bellis will return to the main draw at Flushing Meadows.
   The 17-year-old amateur from Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area upended seventh-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-2 today in the final round of qualifying.
   Meanwhile, former Stanford All-American Kristie Ahn lost to another Belgian, 27th-seeded Elise Mertens, 6-1, 6-4.
   Bellis, ranked No. 158, defeated No. 112 Van Uytvanck for the first time in three career matches, all in the past six weeks.
   Van Uytvanck, 22, won in three sets in the Stockton (Calif.) semifinals en route to the title in mid-July and in the first round in Lexington (Kent.) two weeks later. Both tournaments were $50,000 Challengers.
   Van Uytvanck, a French Open quarterfinalist last year, is rebounding from ankle surgery.
   Bellis will meet 65th-ranked Viktorija Golubic, a 23-year-old Swiss, for the first time in the opening round on Monday or Tuesday. The winner will face either 27th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy or Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C.
   Bellis received an automatic wild card in the 2014 U.S. Open after winning the USTA girls 18 national title at age 15. She then stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, who had reached the Australian Open final that year, to become the youngest player to win a main-draw match in the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996. Bellis then fell to Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in three sets.
   Bellis has not played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament since then. She lost in the final round of U.S. Open qualifying last year to Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, the 2014 Wimbledon girls singles champion. Bellis returned the favor by shocking the sixth-seeded Ostapenko in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, a five-minute drive from Bellis' home, the week after Stockton en route to her first WTA quarterfinal.    
   Ahn, 24, was seeking her first main-draw berth in the U.S. Open in eight years. As a qualifier at 16 in 2008, she lost to Dinara Safina, ranked seventh at the time and No. 1 the following year, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. 

   Since then, the 5-foot-5 (1.66-meter) Ahn has suffered numerous injuries.

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