NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.28 seed Jennifer Brady took the honors in an all-American battle in the second round of the US Open, overpowering Catherine Bellis 6-1, 6-2 in just 51 minutes.
Brady has been in irresistible form throughout 2020, both before and after the Tour shutdown, and has now extended her win-loss record this season to 19-6 - which includes wins over Ashleigh Barty, Garbiñe Muguruza and Maria Sharapova in the first two months of the year, and her maiden WTA title in Lexington in August. Bellis, a former World No.35 who made her comeback last November from multiple wrist and arm surgeries, had in fact defeated her countrywoman in their only prior meeting, in Sydney 2018 qualifying - but found Brady's improvements under new coach Michael Geserer too hot to handle in this rematch. Brady would pound 21 winners to 13 unforced errors, while Bellis could find only three winners to 20 unforced errors.
Brady's renowned serve took some time to fully click. Three of the first four games saw the server immediately go down 0-40 and ultimately get broken - but Brady's one loose game was not enough to either deter the 25-year-old from her aggressive strategy, nor for Bellis to overcome the problem of her own delivery being relentlessly punished. The Lexington quarterfinalist won just four points on serve in the first set - only one behind her second serve - and could not find a clean winner until the first game of the second set.
By contrast, Brady would pummel 13 winners as, once settled on serve, she raced away with the set. By its close, a desperate Bellis was shedding unforced errors - racking up 10 in the first ace - in an attempt to make an impact on the scoreboard, and fell behind 1-5 on her second double fault. A game later, Brady had wrapped up the opening act with her third ace.
The second set would provide little respite for Bellis. That first winner - a pass to save break point - couldn't prevent Brady from powering to the immediate break anyway, and two games later to a second as Bellis's groundstrokes proved unable to deal with the Dubai semifinalist's sheer pace.
Bellis would manage to get enough of a handle on a series of returns to save some pride by getting one of the breaks back in the fourth game - but shot herself in the foot with a fourth double fault down break point in the very next, enabling Brady to move up 4-1. Serving to stay alive, the World No.349 finally notched up a hold for the first time today - but this was scant help in the next game as Brady continued to rain down power to seal a love hold, and a third-round date against either No.1 seed Karolina Pliskova or Caroline Garcia.