Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bellis, 17, reaches third consecutive final

   CiCi Bellis will play for her third consecutive singles title and by far the biggest of her life on Sunday.
   But the 17-year-old product of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area faces a stiff challenge.
   Bellis, seeded fourth, dispatched unseeded American Jacqueline Cako 6-0, 6-4 today in the semifinals of the $125,000 Hawaii Open in Honolulu. It was Bellis' 14th straight win.
   Bellis, by far the youngest player in the top 100 at No. 92, will meet top-seeded Zhang Shuai of China for the first time on Sunday at 3 p.m. PST. The match will be streamed live.
   The 23rd-ranked Zhang, who reached the Australian Open quarterfinals as a qualifier in January, outclassed sixth-seeded Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 6-2, 6-3.
   Bellis already has beaten one Grand Slam quarterfinalist this year. As a qualifier, she upset Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C., in the second round of the U.S. Open before falling to second seed and eventual champion Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-1. Rogers advanced to the final eight in the French Open in June.
   Then there was Bellis' breakthrough victory over 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova at 15 in the 2014 U.S. Open. Cibulkova had reached the Australian Open final that year, losing to since-retired Li Na of China.
   Neither Zhang, a 27-year-old wild card, nor Bellis has dropped a set in the Honolulu tournament. Bellis, in fact, has not lost more than five games in a match.
   Bellis, who turned pro on Sept. 13, is coming off titles in two $50,000 indoor tournaments in Canada. She also has won four crowns in $25,000 tourneys.
   Zhang, meanwhile, seeks her second straight title. She won a $100,000 tourmament in Tokyo this month.
   Bellis will rise to approximately No. 75 with a victory in the Honolulu final or about No. 83 with a loss.

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