Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bellis suffers stunning collapse in U.S. Open

   The U.S. Open has been the scene of some of CiCi Bellis' greatest triumphs.
   Today, it was the scene of one of her most disappointing losses.
   Bellis, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, fell to Nao Hibino of Japan 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., in a first-round match postponed by rain.
   Bellis, 18, led 5-3 in the third set but collapsed in a blaze of unforced errors, especially on the forehand side. She was clearly perturbed afterward, giving the 22-year-old Hibino a perfunctory handshake at the net.
   Bellis, the youngest player in the top 50 at No. 36, will drop to about No. 43 after the U.S. Open. She reached the third round as a qualifier last year, then turned pro.
   Three years ago, Bellis stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in the opening round to become the youngest player to win a singles match at the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996. Cibulkova had advanced to the Australian Open final that year.
   Hibino, ranked No. 80, earned her first main-draw victory in a Grand Slam tournament after seven losses and topped Bellis for the first time after two defeats. Hibino won the inaugural Stockton Challenger in 2015.
   Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens, a 24-year-old Fresno product, upset No. 11 seed Cibulkova 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 in the second round. Stephens, who climbed to No. 11 in the world in 2013, returned to competition last month at Wimbledon after missing 11 months because of foot surgery. She will play Ashleigh Barty of Australia.
   Ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs beat Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-0, 1-6, 6-1 in the completion of a first-round match suspended by rain. Gibbs, 24, will face top-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.
   Sofia Kenin, who won last month's Stockton Challenger, topped qualifier Sachia Vickery 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (0) in a second-round matchup of Miami-area residents who often practice with each other.
   Kenin, 18, was born in Moscow and moved to the United States as a baby. She will take on her idol, wild card Maria Sharapova. If Kenin loses and remains an amateur, she will forfeit $144,000 for reaching the third round of the U.S. Open.
   On the men's side, No. 17 seed Sam Querrey, a 29-year-old San Francisco native, beat 32-year-old Dudi Sela of Israel 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round.
   Querrey, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters) and 210 pounds (95 kilograms), is 9 inches (22.9 centimeters) taller and 66 pounds (30.0 kilograms) heavier than Sela.
   Querrey, who reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon, has not lost a set in two matches at the U.S. Open. He will meet another 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) veteran, 27-year-old Radu Albot of Moldova, and could face Davis Cup teammate John Isner, seeded 10th, in the round of 16.

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