Friday, August 26, 2016

Bellis, 17, to face familiar foe for U.S. Open berth

CiCi Bellis, above, will meet Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium
for the third time in six weeks today. Photo by Paul Bauman
   CiCi Bellis and Alison Van Uytvanck will meet for the third time in six weeks today.
   This time, a U.S. Open berth will be at stake.
   Bellis continued to coast in qualifying in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., on Thursday. The 17-year-old resident of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area rolled past Grace Min of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-4, 6-0 after crushing Lina Gjorcheska of Macedonia 6-0, 6-2 on Wednesday in the opening round.
   Min won the 2011 U.S. Open girls singles title and reached the final of last month's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger, losing to 17-year-old Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla.
   Van Uytvanck, a 22-year-old Belgian seeded seventh, held off Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 7-5, 7-5. Hradecka has won three Grand Slam doubles titles -- two women's, including the 2013 U.S. Open, and one mixed.
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Van Uytvanck defeated Bellis, who's listed at 5-foot-7 (1.68 meters) and only 110 pounds (50 kilograms), in three sets in both of their previous matches. Van Uytvanck won in the Stockton semifinals en route to the title in mid-July and in the first round at Lexington two weeks later. Both were $50,000 tournaments.
   Bellis made international headlines as a wild card in the 2014 U.S. Open by stunning 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first round of the main draw. Cibulkova had reached the Australian Open final that year, falling to Li Na of China.
   Bellis, then 15, became the youngest player to win a main-draw match in the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996. 

   Van Uytvanck, a French Open quarterfinalist last year, underwent ankle surgery this past spring.
   Kristie Ahn of Upper Saddle River, N.J., also will meet a Belgian, 27th-seeded Elise Mertens, in the final round of U.S. Open qualifying. Ahn, a former Stanford All-American, upset fifth-seeded Kai-Lin Zhang of China 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   Ahn, 24, seeks 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. But the 5-foot-5 (1.66-meter) Ahn then suffered numerous injuries.
   On the men's side of U.S. Open qualifying, 13th-seeded Dennis Novikov of Milpitas in the Bay Area lost to Pedja Krstic of Serbia 7-6 (0), 7-5. Novikov reached the second round at Wimbledon this summer as a qualifier.
   The men's and women's draws will be held today at 8:30 a.m. PDT.

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