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Bejenaru nails her biggest scalp yet

By David Kelly

If ever there was an example of grabbing an unexpected chance with both hands, it was yesterday when Karola Bejenaru made the quarter-finals of the grade three International Tennis Federation event in Budapest.

The 16-year-old east Belfast teenager had lost in the final round of qualifying but due to a withdrawal was handed a lucky loser pass into the first round proper.

The draw was not so kind to Romanian-born Bejenaru as she was matched against the number 131 in the world, Mina Markovic of Serbia. Having lost the first set 6-3 it seemed she would be packing her bags but Bejenaru had other ideas.

Suddenly the number seven seed found herself under a hail of heavy groundstrokes off both wings with Bejanaru taking the second 6-2.

That set up a tense deciding set but Bejenaru got the crucial break and then crushed any threat from the Serb, winning it 6-3.

A few hours later she was back on court for her second round match against the number 213 in the world, Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic and produced a devastating performance.

Bejenaru shot out of the blocks and produced some superb service games to win the match 6-3 6-0.

Bejenaru's Windsor tennis club coach Przemek Stec said: "Beating a girl ranked as highly as the Serb is a major breakthrough moment for Karola.

"Beating someone 131 in the world just shows her and everyone else that she is capable of making it into the top 100. I don't think it will happen this year, because there is not enough time but 2014 could be very exciting.

"The key now is to build her game and to build her fitness so that results like these become more frequent. If they do then she has a real chance of making it to junior Wimbledon next year.

"She has been out in Poland and Hungary for three weeks now and I think it is only now that she is feeling very comfortable on the court."

Meanwhile, British number three Dan Evans made the third round of the US Open after an impressive win against Bernard Tomic.

Fresh from his first-round victory over 11th seed Kei Nishikori, the 23-year-old qualifier beat the 6ft 5in Australian 1-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

Evans, ranked 127 places below world number 52 Tomic, recovered well after losing the opener.

Roger Federer booked his place in the third round with a routine win over Carlos Berlocq.

Federer, seeded seventh in New York after a gradual decline in form, rarely looked anything other than comfortable as he grew into a match which he took 6-3 6-2 6-1.

The Swiss won 75 per cent of the points on his first delivery and 67 per cent on the second, adding in 37 winners for good measure.

Serena Williams wasted little time reaching the third round with a comfortable victory over Galina Voskoboeva.

The Kazakh, ranked 77th in the world, put up a better fight than the 6-3 6-0 scoreline suggested but it was still nowhere near enough to threaten the world number one.

Li Na can expect Laura Robson to keep fighting in their third-round rematch today even if the teenager is playing "a bit pants".

It was in New York 12 months ago where Robson announced that she had come of age at the top level with back-to-back wins over Kim Clijsters and Li.

Now the pair meet again at the same stage after Robson posted an impressive victory over Caroline Garcia in the second round.

Asked where she felt she had improved most since facing Li last year, Robson said: "I think just my willingness to stick with it even when I'm playing a bit pants. Just wait for them to make a few errors when I need to."

Belfast Telegraph


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