U.S. Open darling Bellis falls in second round

Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:03am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Cinderella grand slam debut of 15-year-old Catherine Bellis ended in the second round of the U.S. Open on Thursday when she was beaten by emerging Kazakh talent Zarina Diyas in three sets.

Bellis became an instant darling of the 2014 U.S. Open by upsetting 12th-seeded Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, making her the youngest player to win a match at Flushing Meadows in 18 years since Anna Kournikova.

Fans packed Court 17 and lines of spectators waited at every entrance to the cozy 2,800-seat stadium on Thursday for a chance to cheer on the pony-tailed Bellis.

The mega screen outside Arthur Ashe Stadium by the fountains in the main plaza was trained on the outer court drama while former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray battled on the center court.

In the end, hopeful vibes from the local crowd at the U.S. National Tennis Center could not change the script even as the stands rocked with chants of "CiCi" - the Californian teenager's nickname.

Bellis put up a valiant fight, winning seven games in a row after dropping the opening set, but the 20-year-old Diyas proved too strong and too consistent and registered a 6-3 0-6 6-2 win.

"I never thought I'd be here after the first round, so I'm happy," Bellis said in an courtside interview. "This whole thing has been such a great experience. I feel lucky and honored to been playing through it.

"Even though I was nervous I came out and played and tried as hard as I could and even though it didn't turn out as I wanted it to, it was still a great tournament."   Continued...

Catherine Bellis of the U.S reacts to missing a shot in the 3rd set against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan during their match at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 28, 2014.   REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton