Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Morocco marathon: Bellis, 18, ousts Bacsinszky

CiCi Bellis poses with her coach, Anibal Aranda, at the Broadway Tennis
Center in Burlingame, near San Francisco International Airport, on Dec. 28.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   CiCi Bellis took another step in her blossoming career today, upsetting No. 2 seed and defending champion Timea Bacsinszky 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-5 in 3 hours, 8 minutes to reach the quarterfinals on clay in Rabat, Morocco.
   Bellis, an 18-year-old product of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, saved one match point.
   "I feel amazing; it's definitely one of the longest matches I've played on the pro tour, so I'm happy to come through," Bellis said in an on-court interview.
   Bellis won 7-5 in the third set for the second consecutive day. She topped Japan's Nao Hibino, the champion of the inaugural Stockton Challenger in 2015, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in 2 hours, 2 minutes in the first round.
   Bacsinszky, ranked No. 27 to match her age, is the fifth top-30 player Bellis has beaten but the first on clay.
   Bacsinszky also is the fifth player to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal or better whom Bellis has defeated. Bacsinszky advanced to the French Open semifinals in 2015 and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2015 and Roland Garros last year.
   Bellis, by far the youngest player in the top 100 at No. 59, will play American Varvara Lepchenko, a 30-year-old left-hander originally from Uzbekistan, for the first time on Thursday.
   Lepchenko, ranked No. 73, surprised fifth-seeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 in 2 hours, 15 minutes.
   Bellis can crack the top 50 for the first time by reaching the final of the $226,750 tournament. The champion will collect $43,000.

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