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Bellis, 15, upsets Cibulkova at U.S. Open

CiCi Bellis celebrates after defeating Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in front of a noisy crowd.

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CiCi Bellis celebrates after defeating Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in front of a noisy crowd.

NEW YORK — American CiCi Bellis, 15, became the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match since 1996 — almost three years before she was born — when she stunned Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova on Tuesday.

Bellis rallied from down a break in the third set for a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 first-round victory over the 12th seed. With an overflow crowd at a cozy side court roaring, she broke Cibulkova's serve to clinch the match.

"I never thought I'd come out like this," the Californian said.

Anna Kournikova was 15 when she won at the U.S. Open in 1996.

Bellis' title at the USTA Girls' 18s National Championship earned a wild card into her first tour-level main draw. Bellis is the youngest American to win at the U.S. Open since a 15-year-old Mary Joe Fernandez in 1986.

"Believing was the No. 1 thing that I had to do today," said Bellis, whose nickname CiCi is derived from the initials of her first and middle names, Catherine Cartan.

"We were just thankful that she didn't get double-bageled. That was the first objective,'' said her father, Gordon.

Asked if she's a fan of pop star Justin Bieber, the homeschooled Bellis answered, "I used to like him when I was younger, a couple years ago."

Serena Williams began her bid for a third consecutive U.S. Open title with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over American Taylor Townsend, 18.

Ana Ivanovic beat American Alison Riske 6-3, 6-0. Ivanovic has won 48 matches this year, more than anyone else on tour.

Tampa's Samantha Stosur quickly dispatched American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-4. The 49th-ranked Davis fell to 0-3 at her home Grand Slam event.

Svetlana Kuznetsova lost her first-round U.S. Open match for the first time since 2005, falling 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) to Marina Erakovic.

Victoria Azarenka got a scare from 90th-ranked Misaki Doi but won 6-7 (7-3), 6-4, 6-1.

Part-time Tampa resident John Isner, a former top American college player, beat this year's top American college player. Isner won 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) against Marcos Giron, who earned his first spot in a Grand Slam tournament when he won the NCAA title for UCLA.

"It's tough playing another American so early because one of us is going home," Isner said. "But every time I play a younger American player, and that will happen a lot more, I'm expected to win that match."

American Sam Querrey improved to 3-9 in five-set matches with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Maximo Gonzalez. Another American, Jack Sock, retired from his match because of a right calf injury. Sock trailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to Pablo Andujar.

With Michael Jordan watching as a guest in Roger Federer's courtside box, Federer won 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) against Marinko Matosevic.

odesnik returnS: After a five-year absence from the U.S. Open — which included a yearlong ban from the tour — American Wayne Odesnik lost 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to Kai Nishikori in the first round. Odesnik, 28, was off the tour from April 2010 to August 2011 after pleading guilty in an Australian court to importing HGH. "I'm putting my energy on things that are in my control and what can help my future, not that stuff," said Odesnik, a wild card entry based on wins in the USTA's minor-league Pro Circuit.

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Today's key matches

Men: Stan Wawrinka (3) vs. Thomaz Bellucci; Grigor Dimitrov (7) vs. Ryan Harrison; Marin Cilic (14) vs. Marcos Baghdatis.

Women: Simona Halep (2) vs. Jana Cepelova; Agnieszka Radwanska (4) vs. Peng Shuai; Maria Sharapova (5) vs. Alexandra Dulgheru; Venus Williams (19) vs. Timea Bacsinszky.

TV: 11 a.m., Tennis Channel, 1 p.m., ESPN, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Bellis, 15, upsets Cibulkova at U.S. Open 08/26/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:16pm]

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