Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bay Area's Bellis, Novikov fall in Miami Open

CiCi Bellis, 16, of Atherton lost to Monica Puig of
Puerto Rico in the first round of the Miami Open.
2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   San Francisco Bay Area residents CiCi Bellis and Dennis Novikov lost today in the first round of the Miami Open.
   Bellis, a 16-year-old wild card from Atherton, fell to Monica Puig, 22, of Puerto Rico 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on the Stadium Court in a match that ended at midnight EDT.
   Novikov, a 22-year-old qualifier from Milpitas, succumbed to Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-1, 7-6 (5).
   Both Bellis and Puig faced 15 break points. Puig saved 10 and Bellis eight.
   Bellis, an amateur, will plunge from No. 219 in the world to about No. 262 when the next rankings are released on April 4.
   She reached the third round of the Miami Open last year, routing then-No. 32 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1 in the second round before losing to Serena Williams 6-1, 6-1. Williams went on to win the title for the eighth time.
   Bellis made international headlines in 2014 by stunning 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the U.S. Open. Cibulkova had advanced to the Australian Open final that year, falling to Li Na.
   Puig, who reached the Sydney final in January as a qualifier before losing to two-time Grand Slam singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, will face 13th-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the second round.
   Azarenka, who received a opening-round bye, will be playing her first match since upsetting Williams on Sunday for her second title in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   Novikov made his Miami Open debut this year. He turned pro in 2013 after leading UCLA to the NCAA final as a sophomore.

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