STANFORD, CA, USA - 17-year-old Catherine Bellis thrilled the Northern California crowd in her first round against No.6 seed Jelena Ostapenko; the American ousted the Latvian youngster, 6-4, 6-4 at the Bank of the West Classic.
"In the end, I was just a little bit more consistent than she was," she said in her on-court interview. "I just tried to make as many balls as I could - especially in that last game. It was a little tight; I had a couple of heart attacks, but it's all good!"
Bellis burst onto the scene back in 2014, when at 15 years of age, she stunned Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the US Open to become the youngest woman to win a main draw match there in nearly a decade. Two years on, the potential still burned bright from the young American, who twice recovered from early deficits to survive the surging Ostapenko, who struggled on serve with nine double faults in the 72 minute match.
Injured in doubles on Monday, Bellis admitted to Andrew Krasny she considered pulling out of the tournament before the match took place.
"I didn't even know if I was going to play tonight because yesterday I got hit with an overhead in the eye. I was crying so hard and wasn't even able to see. So to even come out today meant so much to me."
Her win over Ostapenko was the first Stadium Court match to last only two sets as Julia Boserup, Magda Linette, and Alison Riske each needed a decider to capture their first round wins. Another American wildcard who reached the third round of Wimbledon in her Grand Slam debut, Boserup dispatched rising star Naomi Osaka, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, while Linette recovered from a one-set deficit to defeat Kristyna Pliskova, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. Riske pulled off the most dramatic win of all against Varvara Lepchenko, clinching victory in a third set tie-break, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).
More to come...