While 15-year-old American CiCi Bellis was in the process of stunning a Grand Slam finalist to become the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match since 1996, her father did his best to conceal his emotions courtside.
Like many a teen, CiCi has strict rules for Dad in public – even if his 1,208th-ranked daughter is pulling out a back-and-forth 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory Tuesday over 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in the first round at Flushing Meadows in New York.
“I’m told I cannot sigh and I cannot move or say anything (because) that distracts her, so I just have to sit there like a Sphinx and just smile and pray,” the elder Bellis, Gordon, explained with a deadpan delivery. “She hears me when I sigh. So I can’t sigh.”
Ah, yes, the joys of raising kids. And make no mistake, Bellis is a kid. She is home-schooled and about to start 10th grade. Her first memory of the U.S. Open was watching Maria Sharapova on TV. She likes to hang out at the mall with friends back home in California. Asked whether she’s a fan of pop star Justin Bieber, Bellis answered, “I used to like him when I was younger, a couple years ago.”
Serena Williams win
Bellis’ victory was part of a 9-4 showing by American women Tuesday, including 8-0 against unseeded opponents. In an all-American match at night, another teen, Taylor Townsend, lost quickly to two-time defending champion Serena Williams 6-3, 6-1.
“We have such an amazing future,” Williams said about U.S. women’s tennis. “We have so much to look forward to.”
Her win came after Roger Federer beat Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) with Michael Jordan sitting in Federer’s guest box in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Growing up, he was my big sporting idol,” Federer said. “Having him here is unbelievably special.”
American Jack Sock retired from his first-round U.S. Open match because of a right calf injury.
Sock was trailing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to Pablo Andujar of Spain when he decided he couldn’t continue. He said he strained the calf on a slide in the second set.
Sock hopes he can recover in time for doubles. He and Canada’s Vasek Pospisil won Wimbledon in their first tournament together, upsetting the 15-time Grand Slam champion Bryan brothers.
John Isner, a former top American college player, beat this year’s top American college player in the first round of the U.S. Open.
The 13th-seeded Isner defeated Marcos Giron 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (2). Giron earned his first spot in a Grand Slam tournament when he won the NCAA title for UCLA in May.
Giron, 21, announced in July he was turning pro after his junior season.