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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vikhlyantseva Upsets Top Seed Bellis, No. 2 Seed Ostapenko Ousted in US Open Girls Draw; Four US Boys Reach Round of 16

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

The hottest day of the New York's summer proved to be the backdrop for two big upsets in the second round of the US Open junior championships, with top girls seed CiCi Bellis falling to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 7-6(9) 2-6, 6-1 and No. 2 seed and Wimbledon champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia dismissed by Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-1.

For the second day in a row, Bellis was the first match on the Grandstand, and a large crowd, clustered almost entirely in the shaded areas there was supporting the 15-year-old from Atherton, California. After beating No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first round, Bellis had been one of the biggest stories of the first week, and the second-week fans were given the opportunity to see her as she attempted to win her first junior slam.

Although she saved five set points (and failed to convert two of her own in the tiebreaker) in the first set and took the second, Bellis could not match Vikhlyantseva's level in the third, even though the 17-year-old Russian was feeling the effects of the heat and humidity.

"Today was the first day I was cramping in muscles," said the No. 44-ranked Vikhlyantseva, who has never been past the third round of a junior slam. "After the ten-minute (heat) break, I had cramps in my right hand and at 4-1 for me, I cramped in my leg and I just can't walk."

Vikhlyantseva asked for a trainer, who said she would help on the next changeover, but Vikhlyantseva decided to play on, and she finished off Bellis without any drama.

Bellis, who said she felt the heat, but had no physical problems related to it, was unable to capitalize on Vikhlyantseva's condition, although she did recognize it.

"It was at 4-1," Bellis said. "I tried my hardest, but I mean, it wasn't going well for me today."

Both Vikhlyantseva and Bellis mentioned the 6-foot Russian's serve as a major reason for her success.  Vikhlyantseva averaged 104 mph on her first serve, while Bellis could muster an average of just 88, with Vikhlyantseva hitting one serve 114 mph.

"Sometimes she couldn't receive it," Vikhlyantseva said of her superiority in that area, which she attributed to the four or five inch height difference ."Sometimes when she receive it, it was very easy for me to hit to the other side. I think I have better serve than she."

Vikhlyantseva said she was "scared" when she went out on the Grandstand, but after a few games, she found herself playing like she always does.  The initially found the large crowd intimidating, but when she experienced their reactions, she relaxed.

"The atmosphere was very great, so many people come to see our match," said Vikhlyantseva. "When we start, yes they applaud for Bellis, but when I hit very great shot, they applaud also for me. When I serve ace, they applaud, and don't applaud for double faults. Very great atmosphere."

Despite the loss, Bellis said she too enjoyed the opportunity to play on the Grandstand.

"I loved it," Bellis said. "I hadn't played on Grandstand ever before my first round yesterday, because I played on 17 in my second round main draw, so it was really a good experience. I really like that court too."

Bellis agreed that the attention she had received after her first round win had led to some fatigue as she started the junior championships.

"Definitely," Bellis said. "But that's kind of the price you pay when you do well. I can't really complain about that."

Bellis did pick up a win in doubles later in the afternoon, with fellow 15-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, and was relieved to finish the day with a win.

"That helps a lot," Bellis said. "If I had lost doubles, I don't know what I would have done with myself. My partner and I are a really good team, and we'll see how far we can go."

The top quarter of the girls draw has lost all four of its seeds, and Katerina Stewart is responsible for the elimination of No. 12 Anastasiya Komardina after her 6-1, 6-1 victory over the Russian Tuesday.

"I know she's a great player," said Stewart, a wild card in the tournament due to her USTA Girls 18s Clay Court championship. "The last time I saw her was at the Czech Republic (for the ITF World Junior Tennis competition), so I knew she was a really good player. I was really prepared today."

Stewart said winning a round in women's qualifying two weeks ago has helped her.

"It's a good experience for sure, being here for like the last two weeks and a half," Stewart said. "I got ready for the courts and I was really excited to play qualies and US Junior Open. I tried to gain all my experience in qualifying, so I could be 100 percent prepared for this juniors. Basically I'm just going to play my game, make adjustments to my opponents, try my best and see what happens."

Stewart will play unseeded Anna Bondar of Hungary, who defeated Michaela Gordon 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Raveena Kingsley, who was the last player to get into the main draw, has advanced to the round of 16 with a 6-4, 7-5 win over qualifier Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia.  Kingsley said she struggled with the heat after she took a 4-2 lead in the second set.

"It's been really hot out there, hotter than I expected," said the 16-year-old from Parkton, Maryland. "You have to stay cool and push yourself when the heat starts to get to you. I felt great until the end, but I pushed myself through it. I just had to."

Last year, as a qualifier, Kingsley lost to Belinda Bencic, who reached the quarterfinals of the women's tournament this week.

"It was a great experience to play her obviously, since it was my first US Open and first grand slam, and to see her there now," Kingsley said. "Hopefully, a year from now, I'll be where she is."

Kingsley will play No. 11 seed Anna Kalinskaya in the third round Thursday, who beat her 6-2, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the International Hard Court Championships two weeks ago in College Park, Md.

"Now I have an idea of how she plays," said Kingsley. "She hits a lot of balls deep, so I'll adjust, which I didn't do last time."

Kelly Chen, who had also lost to Kalinskaya in Maryland, lost to her again today 6-3, 6-1. Usue Arconada fell to No. 16 seed Olga Fridman 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.

All four US boys in action Tuesday won, reaching the round of 16. No. 14 seed Taylor Fritz cruised past Filippo Baldi of Italy and No. 3 seed Jared Donaldson eliminated qualifier Simone Roncalli of Italy 6-3, 6-1.

No. 6 seed Francis Tiafoe was in the midst of a much tougher battle with Daniel Appelgren of Sweden on Court 17, having just won the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6(3) and begun serving in the first game of the second set.

"He had a break point, was up 15-40," said Tiafoe. "We had a good rally, I hit inside out, kind of a backhand lob down the line, kind of flicked it cross--kind of a lucky shot. He goes and slides and falls over...I turned around and he was like flipping."

After a medical timeout, Applegren attempted to play the next two points, but couldn't move and retired. He also was unable to play his doubles match later in the day and an alternate replaced him.

"I'm happy, but I feel bad for him," said Tiafoe, who had nine aces in the abbreviated match. "We're pretty good friends, practiced together at Wimbledon, he's a really nice guy. I think he's a (birth year) 1996, so it's his last junior tournament and it's tough to end like that. But yeah, I'm happy to be off the court."

Tiafoe will play No. 9 seed Marcelo Zormann of Brazil in the round of 16 on Thursday, while Fritz will play No. 1 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia, who defeated Jordi Arconada of Argentina 6-3, 7-6(3).

Henrik Wiersholm was the fourth US boys to advance, and for the second straight match he had to overcome the disappointment of losing a second set tiebreaker in his 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-2 victory over Lucas Miedler of Austria.

"I had a chance to close it out in straights, just as I did (Sunday)," said the 17-year-old Wiersholm, who had a match point at 5-6 in the tiebreaker. "Whatever could have happened in the breaker, and I was angry about that. You know we get ten minutes for the heat, and I spent about five minutes of that just yelling at myself. But the next five minutes was spent getting mentally ready for the third."

Wiersholm, who was ill before and during his first round win over Joao Menezes of Brazil on Sunday, said he is now just suffering from a cold, but he acknowledged that the first set was "hellishly hot."

"I was just glad to get that first set, because I was up 5-2 and he ended up coming back to 5-all and I played a couple of great games to close that out," said the 17-year-old Wiersholm, who has already begun his freshman year at the University of Virginia. "It was, overall, a high quality match."

Wiersholm will play No. 7 seed Duck Hee Lee of Korea, who defeated Sumit Nagal of India 6-2, 6-2, in Thursday's round of 16.

The first round of doubles was completed Tuesday, with six US boys and four US girls into the second round. Stefan Kozlov, playing with Rublev and top-seeded, advanced, as did Taylor Fritz, seeded No. 5 with Tim Van Rijthoven. The wild card teams of Sameer Kumar and Eduardo Nava and John McNally and Gianni Ross, also reached the second round.

In addition to Bellis, Katrine Steffensen, playing with Renata Zarazua of Mexico advanced, as did the team of Ingrid Neel and Caroline Dolehide.

For results, draws and the order of play for Wednesday, when the second round singles will be completed, is at usopen.org.


Numbers Don't Lie said...

"When Ola Malmqvist started as Head Coach of Women's Tennis at USTA in 2008 only 5 women finished the year in top 100. Right now 12 in the top 100" - Mark Kovacs

What about Jay Berger, Head Coach of Mens Tennis?

2008 - 8 in Top 100 (2 Top 10, 4 Top 50)
Current - 6 in Top 100 (1 Top 15, 2 Top 50)