Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gibbs advances in Miami; Bellis, 16, to face Puig

Nicole Gibbs, serving in last year's U.S. Open, continued
her strong play today in Miami. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Wild card Nicole Gibbs, a former Stanford star, continued her strong year with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan today in the first round of the Miami Open.
   It was the first victory in Miami for Gibbs. The 23-year-old resident of Marina del Ray in the Los Angeles region lost in the first round of qualifying last year in her Miami debut.
   As a qualifier in her previous two tournaments this year, Gibbs reached her second career quarterfinal, in Monterrey, Mexico, and the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   Gibbs also advanced to the second round of the Australian Open in January as a qualifier before losing to 28th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-1, 7-6 (4).
   The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Gibbs, ranked a career-high No. 74, will get another shot at the 6-foot (1.86-meter) Mladenovic, ranked No. 29, in the second round in Miami. Mladenovic, seeded 27th, received a first-round bye.
   Putintseva, a 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter) Moscow native, is ranked No. 58.
   CiCi Bellis, 16, of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, is scheduled to play Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the first round on Wednesday on the Stadium Court after the 4:30 p.m. (PDT) match between Juan Martin Del Potro and Guido Pella, both from Argentina.
   It will be the first meeting between Bellis and Puig, ranked No. 219 and No. 67, respectively.
   Bellis routed then-No. 32 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1 in the second round in Miami last year before losing to Serena Williams 6-1, 6-1. Williams went on to win the title for the eighth time.
   Dennis Novikov, 22, of Milpitas in the Bay Area advanced to the men's main draw with a 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory over Marco Trungelliti of Argentina.
   Novikov, ranked No. 153, will face No. 70 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia for the first time today. Novikov is making his Miami debut this year.

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