American teen CiCi Bellis returns to action at the U.S. Open on Thursday, two days after becoming the youngest player to win a match in the tournament since 1996.
The 15-year-old Californian, ranked 1,208th and playing not only in her first Grand Slam main draw but also her first tour-level event, will try to follow up her surprising victory over 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova by beating 48th-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
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After playing in the first round on tiny Court 6 — which does not have TV coverage, normally — Bellis moves up to Court 17, which has 2,800 seats and is part of the regularly televised rotation at Flushing Meadows.
”It’s crazy to think that I’m actually here right now with all these other (professional players). I mean, I never thought I would be practicing or sharing a court with, you know, a player that I watch on TV frequently,” Bellis said after her first-round win. ”I mean, it’s crazy. But I love it.”
Bellis earned a wild-card invitation from the U.S. Tennis Association by winning a national title for girls 18 and under; she was the youngest champion at that event since Lindsay Davenport in 1991.
After defeating Cibulkova, this year’s Australian Open runner-up, Bellis was asked whether expectations for her tennis career already were growing.
”No. I mean, I’m just going to keep playing my game and not really think about this last match,” Bellis replied, ”and keep going in the tournament, play as well as I can.”
Here are some other things to watch on Day 4 at the U.S. Open:
Aside from Bellis, there is a group of young American women in action. And while Bellis got past a seeded player in the first round, they’re taking on highly regarded opponents in the second.
That includes Christina McHale, 22, who meets No. 16 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, a two-time U.S. Open finalist and two-time Australian Open champion; Shelby Rogers, 21, who takes on No. 11 Flavia Pennetta of Italy; and Nicole Gibbs, 21, who goes up against No. 23 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.
Serena Williams takes a 15-match Flushing Meadows winning streak into her second-round contest against another American, 81st-ranked Vania King.
Williams has won five U.S. Open titles in all, including in 2012 and 2013. She is trying to become the first woman to win the tournament three consecutive years since Chris Evert had a four-year run from 1975-78.
After facing King in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Williams is scheduled to head over to the Grandstand for a first-round doubles match alongside her older sister Venus. They’ll meet the seventh-seeded pairing of Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France.
Nick Kyrgios, the 19-year-old Australian who stunned Rafael Nadal on the way to getting to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, hopes to get to the third round at the U.S. Open for the first time.
Kyrgios has a big serve and a bit of a temper, which carried him within one outburst of getting defaulted during his 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1) defeat of 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny on Monday.
”I’ve been an emotional player my whole career,” Kyrgios said. ”Hopefully, I’ll be able to manage it better in the future. It’s a work in progress.”