Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Despite loss, teenager Bellis nears top 50 in world

CiCi Bellis (above in 2016) and Sorana Cirstea (below
in 2013) meet the press during the Bank of the West
Classic at Stanford. Photos by Paul Bauman
   Despite losing today in the second round of the Madrid Open, CiCi Bellis is closing in on a top-50 world ranking.
   For the second consecutive week, the 18-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product lost 6-3, 6-2 after beating a top-30 player on clay.
   Bellis fell to resurgent Sorana Cirstea, a 27-year-old Romanian, in Madrid after  upsetting No. 26 Daria Gavrilova, a Moscow-born Australian, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2.
   Last week, Bellis lost to Varvara Lepchenko, a 30-year-old American from Uzbekistan, in the quarterfinals in Rabat, Morocco, after surprising No. 2 seed and defending champion Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-5 in 3 hours, 8 minutes.
   Unlike last week, Bellis had a day to rest before her loss. She was trying to beat a Grand Slam quarterfinalist or better for the sixth time. Cirstea reached the French Open quarters in 2009.
   Bellis, now based in Orlando, Fla., will rise about three spots to No. 52 on Monday. Three teenagers, all 19, are ranked in the top 50: No. 29 Ana Konjuh of Croatia, No. 46 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and No. 49 Naomi Osaka Of Japan.
   Bellis defeated Ostapenko in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last July en route to the quarterfinals. Bellis grew up in neighboring  Atherton.
   Bellis, who turned pro last September after reaching the third round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier, is by far the youngest woman in the top 100. Next is Konjuh, who's 15 months older than Bellis.
   Cirstea, ranked No. 83, will play No. 53 Misaki Doi of Japan for a berth in the Madrid quarterfinals. Doi, a 5-foot-3 (1.59-meter) left-hander, routed qualifier Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 6-2 after ousting No. 9 seed Madison Keys in the first round.
   Keys, a 22-year-old American right-hander with a two-handed backhand, underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left wrist last November.
   Doi held a match point against Angelique Kerber in the first round of last year's Australian Open. Kerber went on to win the first of her two Grand Slam singles titles.
   Cirstea advanced to the Bank of the West semifinals in 2012 and climbed to a career-high No. 21 in 2013. However, she dropped out of the top 200 in 2015 because of shoulder problems.

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