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Anti-climax at the U.S. Open


Catherine Bellis of the US (L) and Angelique Kerber of Germany meet at the net after their 2016 US Open women's singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2016 in New York. Don EMMERT / AFP

Catherine Bellis of the US (L) and Angelique Kerber of Germany meet at the net after their 2016 US Open women’s singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2016 in New York.<br />Don EMMERT / AFP

On late Friday night in New York City (early Saturday in London and Lagos) the clashes of Djokovic and Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in the Men’s Draw as well as Catherine Bellis with the second-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Women’s Draw were the advertised epic matches. The two contests had one singular similarity; both ended in an anticlimax of dashed expectations.

In the Djokovic encounter, the Serbian ace won the toss and elected to serve. He promptly held serve with a forehand winner, backhand winner another unreturned serve and a service return error. In two minutes. In the second game, Youzhny did not make a first serve and down 0-15, he slipped on the baseline chasing a Djokovic forehand. He got his first point of the match, on a service return error by his opponent, leveled at 30-all but faced break point at 30-40. Off a second serve, Youzhny prevailed in a 23-shot rally to deuce.

However, Djokovic got the advantage point on Youzhny’s first successful first service delivery. However, Djokovic got the advantage with a volley winner and the break when Youzhny missed a drop shot attempt. Serving to extend the lead, Novak lost the first point but a service return error got him to level and he proceeded to win the game for a tally of 3 games to none. The Russian held to reduce the tally to 3-1. Djokovic won the fifth game without dropping a point.

At the changeover, the medical trainer came on court and examined Youzhny’s left knee. After some stretched while Youzhny lay on his back, the Russian got up to resume play. He took the first point and led 40-30 but got deuced. He lost the first advantage point. Then he delivered an ace to reach game point and won to reduce tally 4-2. Then he walked over to the umpire who announced that the match was over. The gentleman Djokovic walked over to console him. It was the second consecutive walk-over victory for the defending champion

In the Kerber/Bellis match, the 17-year old promising star won the toss and elected to receive. The tournament second-seeded player won the first point on her opponent’s service return error, and was 40-0 when the teenager reeled off three straight points to deuce. Involving a 14-shot rally. Kerber faced break point when she netted a forehand. But she cancelled it after another long rally off her second serve. When Bellis got the next advantage point, the crowd cheered the underdog but Kerber cancelled it to take the next advantage and the game. That turned out to be a crucial game. Serving to level, Bellis fell behind 0-40 and lost the game for the first break in Kerber’s kitty. The German “ice maiden” proceeded to win the first set 6-1; as well as the second set by the same margin.

The scores did not reflect the closeness of the contest; especially in the first set, when many would-be winning shots by Bellis barely missed the lines on Kerber’s side. It was the second time Catherine had made waves in New York. In 2013, she reached the second round after defeating Cibulkova in the fist round of the Open. She also reached the semi-finals of the WTA US Open warm-up tournament in Stanford early in August. She had played through the qualifying rounds into the Main Draw. She has given verbal acceptance to play for Stanford University.

Remember another Stanford freshman (first ear student)? John McEnroe; he was in Stanford when he qualified for the Main Draw in the 1977 Wimbledon where he reached the semi-finals. Based on that unprecedented achievement, John McEnroe dropped out of the university and turned professional. Is Catherine “CC” Bellis headed the same path?

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